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Luxury and PowerThe Material World of the Stuart Diplomat, 1660-1714$
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Helen Jacobsen

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199693757

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693757.001.0001

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The Connoisseurial Adviser

The Connoisseurial Adviser

Matthew Prior, 1664–1721

(p.185) 8 The Connoisseurial Adviser
Luxury and Power

Helen Jacobsen

Oxford University Press

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

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