The Connoisseurial Adviser

Helen Jacobsen

in Luxury and Power

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199693757
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731976 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

The Connoisseurial Adviser

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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The cultural activities of Matthew Prior demonstrate that, far from being a privileged occupation of high-ranking diplomats, collecting was a widespread phenomenon in the diplomatic service and artistic appreciation proved to be an important and influential attribute for a lesser government official. Despite never making it to the rank of ambassador, Prior’s diplomatic career provided the wherewithal – both cultural and financial – for his significant artistic patronage. It was also the means by which he was able to smooth his career path, acting as an adviser to his patrons and procuring art and luxury goods for them while he was abroad. A study of his collecting shows that he was a connoisseur in every sense of the word; his expenditure on furniture and furnishings, objets, and silver – as well as paintings and sculpture – demonstrates how much more was meant by a ‘work of art’ in the late seventeenth century than we understand by it now.

Keywords: government official; career; artistic patronage; adviser; patron; luxury goods; collecting; connoisseur; furniture; furnishings; objets; silver; paintings; sculpture; work of art

Chapter.  9010 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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