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The amateur and the public sphere : private collectors in Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent through the eyes of European travellers in the long nineteenth century

Ulrike Müller (UGent)
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Abstract
In nineteenth-century Belgium, private collections were visited by an interested local and international public; they formed popular topics in travel literature. Travellers such as Johanna Schopenhauer even characterized Belgium as the ‘country of private collectors’, suggesting that the collectors were important actors in the public sphere. How precisely was their position perceived in the Belgian cities, and how was it communicated beyond the country’s borders? Based on the analysis of contemporary travel literature, this article aims to explore the public life of private collectors in the artistic centres of Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent over the course of the nineteenth century. It argues that collectors played a prominent role in the urban cultural life especially between 1780 and 1860, while major societal and cultural-political changes – mainly related to the growing importance and shifting function of public museums – resulted in the gradual withdrawal of private collectors from the public sphere later in the century.
Keywords
museum studies, Belgium, public sphere, history of collecting, private collections

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MLA
Müller, Ulrike. “The Amateur and the Public Sphere : Private Collectors in Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent through the Eyes of European Travellers in the Long Nineteenth Century.” JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF COLLECTIONS, vol. 29, no. 3, 2017, pp. 423–38.
APA
Müller, U. (2017). The amateur and the public sphere : private collectors in Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent through the eyes of European travellers in the long nineteenth century. JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF COLLECTIONS, 29(3), 423–438.
Chicago author-date
Müller, Ulrike. 2017. “The Amateur and the Public Sphere : Private Collectors in Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent through the Eyes of European Travellers in the Long Nineteenth Century.” JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF COLLECTIONS 29 (3): 423–38.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Müller, Ulrike. 2017. “The Amateur and the Public Sphere : Private Collectors in Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent through the Eyes of European Travellers in the Long Nineteenth Century.” JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF COLLECTIONS 29 (3): 423–438.
Vancouver
1.
Müller U. The amateur and the public sphere : private collectors in Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent through the eyes of European travellers in the long nineteenth century. JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF COLLECTIONS. 2017;29(3):423–38.
IEEE
[1]
U. Müller, “The amateur and the public sphere : private collectors in Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent through the eyes of European travellers in the long nineteenth century,” JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF COLLECTIONS, vol. 29, no. 3, pp. 423–438, 2017.
@article{8203658,
  abstract     = {In nineteenth-century Belgium, private collections were visited by an interested local and international public; they formed popular topics in travel literature. Travellers such as Johanna Schopenhauer even characterized Belgium as the ‘country of private collectors’, suggesting that the collectors were important actors in the public sphere. How precisely was their position perceived in the Belgian cities, and how was it communicated beyond the country’s borders? Based on the analysis of contemporary travel literature, this article aims to explore the public life of private collectors in the artistic centres of Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent over the course of the nineteenth century. It argues that collectors played a prominent role in the urban cultural life especially between 1780 and 1860, while major societal and cultural-political changes – mainly related to the growing importance and shifting function of public museums – resulted in the gradual withdrawal of private collectors from the public sphere later in the century.},
  author       = {Müller, Ulrike},
  issn         = {0954-6650},
  journal      = {JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF COLLECTIONS},
  keywords     = {museum studies,Belgium,public sphere,history of collecting,private collections},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {423--438},
  title        = {The amateur and the public sphere : private collectors in Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent through the eyes of European travellers in the long nineteenth century},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jhc/fhw032},
  volume       = {29},
  year         = {2017},
}

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