Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Thu Aug 5 08:55:13 PDT 1999

[Oh how I love the economic mind!]

"The Lives of the Painters of Modern Life: The Careers of Artists

in France from Impressionism to Cubism"


University of Chicago

Department of Economics

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Paper ID: NBER Working Paper No. 6888

Date: January 1999


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Modern painting began in France during the nineteenth century.

Using transactions from art auctions for the work of 50 leading

painters who worked in France during the first century of modern

art, I estimate the relationship between the value of a painting

and the artist's age at the date of its execution. The

econometric estimates show that artists born before

1850--including Manet, Cezanne, and Degas--typically produced

their most valuable work late in their careers, whereas artists

born after 1850--including Picasso, Leger, and Braque--were more

likely to have done their most valuable work at early ages.

Comparison of these results to evidence drawn from art history

textbooks furthermore demonstrates that these artists' most

valuable work has also been that most highly regarded by

scholars. I argue that the change over time in the shape of

these artists' age-price profiles was a result of changes in the

nature of painting during the late nineteenth century, as

painting increasingly became an activity in which innovation was

a principal determinant of an artist's importance.

JEL Classification: J24

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