The end of the 19th century has opened a new chapter in the history of art collecting. For centuries collecting had been mainly perceived as the privilege of royalty and nobility. The era of industrialization followed by significant social changes led to shifts in power, both in politics and culture. A new class arose in Europe – the bourgeoisie. Collecting enabled members of the bourgeoisie to gain access to the circles of art lovers in the higher ranks of society. This practice had, in general, an imitative character, but at the same time, each collection was unique and therefore often used as a means of distinguishing oneself. Many of the collections functioned as instruments by which merchants and bankers showed their status and created a distinctive identity to differentiate themselves from the traditional aristocratic collectors.