On Connoisseurship

Director’s Statement

These selected statements by art historians, critics and dealers are intended to clarify what connoisseurship means, its relationship to art history, and the role of the connoisseur. We hope to correct the impression of the connoisseur as someone who may evaluate a work of art on the basis of aesthetic conclusions arrived at too subjectively.
Although these writers differ in emphasis, all seem to agree that judgment informed by intuition is essential, but only if grounded in a thorough understanding of the work itself. Then, on the basis of empirical evidence, refinement of perception about technique and form, and a disciplined method of analysis, the responsibility of the connoisseur is to attribute authorship, validate authenticity and appraise quality. Sometimes these findings will be collected and organized into a catalogue raisonne~ of the work of a single artist or a school. The catalogue raisonne becomes an indispensable reference for scholars, dealers and historians.

This is the first publication prepared by student interns at The Art Institute of Boston to accompany an exhibition. My thanks to Troy Fryatt and Keith Parker for their help and initiative. We are also grateful to Henri Zerner for permission to reprint his essay in full and to Frederick Schab and Richard de Koster who generously agreed to contribute statements on the art and method of the connoisseur.

Bonnell Robinson
Director of Exhibitions