Conference Report | ‘The Educated Eye?’ Connoisseurship Now

Posted in conferences (summary) by Editor on May 14, 2014

Writing for Apollo Magazine’s blog, Katy Barrett provides a recap of the one-day conference on connoisseurship held at The Paul Mellon Centre earlier this month (still available as a recorded webinar). From The Muse Room:

Katy Barrett, ” ‘The Educated Eye? Connoisseurship Now’ at the Paul Mellon Centrer,” The Muse Room: The Apollo Blog (6 May 2014).

he Connoisseur, (1830), unknown artist. Yale Center for British Art, gift of Max and Barbara Wilk

The Connoisseur, 1830, unknown artist (Yale Center for British Art, gift of Max and Barbara Wilk)

What do we mean by ‘connoisseurship’ these days? The term has had negative connotations since at least the 17th century—as long, essentially, as academics, collectors and dealers have prided themselves on possessing this quality. Yet, it also denotes a fêted attribute that any self-respecting art lover would wish to have.

A lively and thought-provoking conference and webinar at The Paul Mellon Centre on Friday 2 May, The Educated Eye: Connoisseurship Now considered this thorny question. Speakers with varied and eclectic backgrounds brought perspectives from the realms of art museums, print collections, art funding, academia, dealerships, auction houses, and conservation. . . .

I was particularly struck by a comment by Stephen Deuchar about academic connoisseurship hiding under the mantle of material culture these days. . . .

Both from our speakers and their subject, personality emerged for me as key to the day. The mantle of authority both as a ‘connoisseur’ and as a commentator on such a person’s validity rests in the marriage of knowledge and persuasive communication, in the mixing of the subjective and the objective, not so different really from an appealing gallery educator or exhibition text. Repeatedly, discussion came back to the need for collaboration to keep these elements in balance. . . .

The full report is available here»

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