German Paintings

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    Larger circles represent items that were most frequently mentioned. Smaller circles represent specific locations that were mentioned in the notes of the data. Cities in Europe were described in detail while areas further from Europe were more vague, such as descriptions of plates from “Asia” or “Africa.”

    This visualization focuses on the locals of the origin of specific pieces in the sales catalogs.  In the notes some objects are listed as a “French” painting or a “Persian” rug. At times cities would stand for the origin of the piece without mentioning the county. When it came to art objects from Asia or Africa, it became apparent that city names were almost entirely absent. Only Japan and China were listed as countries in Asia and if objects did not fit those two locations the objects would just be noted as “Asian.”

    The research lead us back to the complex history of Europe. When trying to verify places that were listed among countries in the descriptions there were problems in finding clear data. While trying to clean the data and distinguish from county and city, some ancient cities and locations would not show up on a Google search. It is important to remember that the data has listings that date back to the Roman Empire and since then many places have changed, from states to city-states to nations and back to nothing, such as when nations dissolve or are taken over by a neighboring county.

    In the end we worked to make the locations used in the visualization strictly countries and continents. There were the issues around locations such as Westphalia, which was once a kingdoms versus a country but we considered them their own country since they had their own currency, which became collectable and often found in the data.

    What this visualization does show is that what was popular to sell, revealed the fact that German interests in art collecting was solely European. There was a large number Asian and Persian works sold. It is also interesting to discover how specific descriptions in the notes were for objects originating on the European Continent and how vague they became as the distance grew between the place of origin and the place of purchase.