Art and structure
Set goals, analyse, think strategically, plan, execute. Applying structure to any project or process requires a clear plan and aimes for a clearly defined end. So it is in collecting art. Structure provides better control, transparent communication, and easier adaptation whenever appropriate. Our business like approach has lead to museums spending far less time on analyzing objects offered to them by trade and private collectors. Once a museum has a clearly defined, what we call an 'Enrichment policy' framework, acquisition decisions take only little time. Policies and decisions are premeditated and pro active.
Art and passion
Does the above mean that our approach to art in a wider sense is a pure rational one? Certainly not; the passion we have for art, for history, for culture is our driving force. But vulnerable passions ought to be guided and protected by ratio. Structure is the best tool to support our passion.
Art and knowledge
There is, of course, the invariably returning question whether the appreciation of art needs knowledge. We believe that to this question there are a multitude of answers, depending on the point of view you start from. There must be a relationship between knowledge and appreciation of art because the story of any work of art enriches its understanding. Simultaneously there is no necessity to have knowledge to appreciate beauty and culture.
However, in dealing with art and collections a sincere knowledge of art history and of how to collect is a tremendous asset. This knowledge has often been regarded as 'connoisseurship'. A cultivated and appreciated quality, that art lovers valued highly. In modern time, however, we have a more academic approach. The knowledge of the history of art is steadily expanding, new scientific methods give ever more information based on facts, databases give easier access to historical information.
Art and money
There is a lot of mysticism that surrounds the art world. Especially when it comes down to money. The buzz at the international art fairs, the magic surrounding important collectors and art dealers, the excitement in the famous auction houses when an important work of art comes under the hammer. Bazuin & de Blécourt's philosophy to art and money is simple and straightforward: every euro, dollar or yuan is one: spend them wisely!
Quite a few examples can be found where museums could have saved substantial sums if they would have been better prepared. This is a reappearing but understandable problem, it is neither the task of a museum director or conservator nor their expertise to keep track of the international art-market and be expert negotiators.
Rembrandt and money
A document in the Amsterdam city archives indicates that Rembrandt earned approximately 1,600 guilders for his prestigious assignment, now known as the Nachtwacht.
How Rembrandt financially ran his business remains an appealing research topic. One of Bazuin & de Blécourt's founders has written an – unpublished – paper on the topic. Research shows that Rembrandt's Nachtwacht was most probably – deliberately – priced low. What was Rembrandt's (pricing) strategy at that time? Each depicted militia man roughly paid 100 guilders, whereas 200 guilders for an individual portrait painted by Rembrandt was at the lower end of the range. Did Rembrandt view this assignment as a marketing expense; an investment aiming at m
ore assignments from these militiamen? For all, Rembrandt was aware of where his group portrait would be displayed, a place highly visible for the up and coming of Amsterdam around 1640.
Rembrandt generated his income from various sources; tuition fees, prints (etchings mostly), autograph paintings and paintings by his 'gesellen' (assistants). Based on the earlier mentioned research Rembrandt's annual sales around 1640 has been estimated at approx. 6000 guilders; i.e. at 20 times the annual salary of the Dutch 17th century version of John Doe.
Among the vast amount of questions regarding the development of Rembrandt's financial wealth one of the main issues concerns the sources of his massive cash-out flow that finally has lead to his bankruptcy in 1656. Was Rembrandt an addicted gambler, was he being blackmailed, did he loose a fortune by investing (or short selling for that matter) in VOC-shares or were slashed tulip prices the reason for his deteriorating liquidity and solvency?
As no records survive of Rembrandt being active in either of those asset classes the often suggested origin of his bankruptcy, his costly 'hobby' as an art collector, could very well be the right one.
On this topic see also our contribution to 'De rekenkamer' a Dutch TV format.