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Abstract This article proposes a novel interdisciplinary approach to the economic history of art. Engaging with research questions defined by the existing art-historical literature, it draws on econometric approaches to understand better and measure how social and economic change affected artistic output–particularly output of rural imagery–in nineteenth-century France. To facilitate this quantitative approach, the article introduces a novel data source that provides information about more than 140,000 works of art displayed in Paris during the nineteenth century. Analysis of this dataset demonstrates that artists’ ability to have regular access to the countryside, largely because of artists’ colonies and inexpensive train travel from Paris, had the greatest demonstrable effect on the output of landscape and rural genre painting in France during the nineteenth century.