The Brummer Collection

by Meaghan Davis, Lucas Giles & Zalika Sankara


The Brummer family retains the status of being one of the most influential dealers in the history of art collection in America. Famed for their role in the promotion of medieval art, they had a significant impact on collecting patterns in the US at the start of the 20th century. Their influence was widely felt not only in the context of private collectors but also within the museum world. This is perhaps best demonstrated by their contribution to the formation of the Cloisters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Other than the enormous financial success of the Brummer gallery, the family were renowned for their eclectic artistic tastes. They sold a wide variety of objects ranging from Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Near Eastern antiquities to works emanating from Africa, Central and Southern America and finally to modern art pieces including works by the acclaimed artist, Henri Matisse.

In light of their indisputable importance, this study explores the economic factors which contributed to the financial success the Brummer family enjoyed during a period marked by economic instability. It considers their role not only as art collectors but also as business people with a keen eye for buying and selling profitable art objects. Central to this study will be conjugating historical events with economic data to be able to explore trends relating to the Brummer collection. As a result, empirical data will form a large part of the project. A cross­disciplinary approach will be implemented with expertise stemming from both the field of art history and economics.

In order to tackle the topic, this paper has been divided into distinct sections with a view to providing a clear outline for the conclusions reached. The paper will begin with a discussion of pre­existing studies on the topic and a breakdown of the gaps observed in the current literature. This will serve as the starting point for delving into the research questions this paper aims to answer. As an unexplored component to the Brummer collection, research will primarily focus on economic issues. Part two examines the historical context around the Brummer family which will provide the contextual grounding to be able to delve into our research questions more 3 deeply. It will not only look at the Brummer family as a unique entity but it will establish how the family fit into its broader context. Having laid the contextual groundwork, the paper will then summarize the methodological blueprint used to execute the statistical analysis. This primarily involves a discussion of the creation of the dataset and the problems encountered during this process. The final three sections provide an in depth analysis of our findings with accompanying data visualizations. Centered around three main topics, they communicate the key findings which were generated during the research for this project.

Art Collectors, Museums

JEL Classification:

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The Brummer Collection
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