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The more things change…


Here’s a quote from Joseph Sill, a Philadelphia art patron:

“Philadelphia is not the place for an artist’s success. Indeed, the taste for the arts seems to be waning away in this city; and with our commerce we shall lose our refinement also.”

He observed that he couldn’t get people to buy local art, but the good citizens of Philadelphia laid down their dollars for art from Europe. He concluded that Philadelphia was “a sad place for artists.”

The quote from Sill, a merchant, is from 1844, and it came from “Philadelphia: A 300-Year History,” ed. Russell Weigley.

Sill was chairman of the Board of Managers of the Artists and Managers Association in 1841 and started the Art Union of Philadelphia several years later, only to see it dissolve in 1855 (image shown is the old 40th Street Bridge).

Certainly, what he said could have applied to Philadelphia until fairly recently; just substitute “New York” for “Europe” and you’ve got modern history. Have things changed much? Anyone dealers out there have an opinion?