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How do art historians study the transactions of art merchants?

How do art historians study the transactions of art merchants?


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My question is the following: I would like to ask how to frame a research paper about transactions of art merchants and their transcription from the accounting book to a research paper. I would like to be able to have a general idea of how a report of an art accounting book should be written in the literature (how long the introductory part should be, how much time to focus on the mere descriptive part and if I should focus more on this or whether I should dig deeper in the life of some specific families that appear many times on the accounting book,… ).

More details about my question:

I am analyzing and summarizing a whole art accounting book of some northern-Italian merchants of the late XVII century and I have to describe all the material they bought and sold over a period of 5 years. Besides a purely descriptive work, I was trying to figure out also the main facts about some specific families that appear more frequently on the accounting books.

More precisely, I am working on an old XVII century-book in which a rich aristocratic family of Venice took notes of all the material they sold, the names of the buyers, the name of the painting or the statue sold, the date and the price. At the beginning the work is purely descriptive: I have to digitalize the whole accounting book to have a digital version of it. Then, the work will continue by describing the merchants I am analyzing, the work I did on their accounting book and it will end with a specific research on the most frequent buyers and their lives.

Thank you very much in advance!