Connoisseurship and the Knowledge of Art in the Netherlands, 1400 to the present
Connoisseurship has long been suspect. Though essential to the study of material objects, it has been opposed to the more ‘substantive’ discipline of academic art history, and reviled as outmoded and elitist, as tainted by the market, and as concerned merely with such artist-reifying/mystifying issues as attribution, authenticity and the autograph ‘hand’. The connoisseur – with typically his ‘eye’ – has been dismissed as a dinosaur.
Yet, the practice of connoisseurship has continued apace – indeed, has been reinvented – in print rooms and museums, in the venues of the art market, and in the monographic projects, large and small, that have catalogued and re-catalogued the works of major and minor masters, now with the aid of ever changing methods of technical investigation. In the Netherlands, the Rembrandt Research Project; seven-volume Rembrandt: The New Hollstein, of 2013; and Corpus Rubenianum have relied on and advanced the methods of connoisseurship. So too have such collaborative investigative initiatives as the Bosch Project and Lasting Support: An Interdisciplinary Research Project to Assess the Structural Condition of the Ghent Altarpiece, which led to the cleaning of Van Eyck’s masterpiece.
Recently, moreover, connoisseurship has been historicized and theorized. Recognizing early modern connoisseurship as a kind of knowledge-based expertise that was the purview of kunstkenners and liefhebbers (art lovers), as opposed to naamkoopers (name buyers), has shed light on historical notions of authenticity, originality, quality, style, judgment, and discernment, as well as on the practices of art making and collecting, of workshop practices and collaboration. Understood in the context of its historical development, and through such early interlocutors as Van Mander, Van Hoogstraten, De Lairesse, Bosse, and De Piles, connoisseurship takes on new dimensions, as do its problematic aspects, such as its association with the practices (and malpractices) of art dealers. Theorized as a method of visual analysis, connoisseurship has been given new life – as a ‘new connoisseurship’ – in its association with technical art history and the scientific investigation of works of art, with intuition and neuroscience, as well as with the computational analysis of large data sets.
This volume of the NKJ seeks proposals that explore the connoisseurship – and the connoisseur – of Netherlandish art by bringing together new research into their history, recent practice, and conceptualization. Questions to consider include, but are not limited to:
- What is the relation between connoisseurship and our understanding of style, quality, and the history of taste, and of concepts of the artist?
- How can new insights into early modern artistic practices, and into the attitudes of painters, kenners and liefhebbers towards authorship, impact present day practices of attribution and notions of ‘authentic’ or ‘autograph’ works?
- How can we think about connoisseurship across media?
- Are interpretations of the results of technical investigations nothing other than classical connoisseurship? Or do these apparently objective methods make connoisseurship rooted in the personal experience of the connoisseur obsolete?
- Can the ‘new connoisseurship’ raise new questions and alter the traditional goals and objectives of connoisseurship?
- Can cognitive and neuro-scientific research provide evidence about how and why connoisseurship works?
- How are seeing and knowing related, and how were they considered to be related in the past?
- What is the future of connoisseurship and do we need a better term for these practices?
For more information, see http://www.brill.com/publications/netherlands-yearbook-history-art-nederlands-kunsthistorisch-jaarboek
Please send a 500-word proposal and a short CV to the volume editors by January 15, 2018:
15 January 2018: Deadline for submission of proposals.
February 2018: Notifications about proposals.
1 May 2018: Deadline for submission of first drafts.
August 2018: Comments by reviewers and editors to contributors.
December 2018: Final drafts.
Spring 2019: Images ready, copy editing, print proofs for correction.
Winter 2019: Publication.