The Eye or Chemistry? Connoisseurship and Technical Art History for Authentication.

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The use of analytical techniques by conservators-restorers, conservation scientists and technical art historians in order to better understand the material culture embedded in paintings is increasing, and we feel an urgent need to share the potential of these techniques as well as their limitations in studying, understanding and authenticating art works in close collaboration with art historians.
Art historical connoisseurship has and will continue to play an important and often conclusive role in the attribution of paintings to a specific artist. However, if the material nature of an art work does not correlate with the period in which a painting is placed art historically, a severe problem is at hand. Precluding the use of technological studies, on the other hand, will equally leave the owner and the connoisseur with empty hands if the conservator together with the conservation scientist does not find historically adequate materials and techniques embedded within the art work.
In order to advance the field of interdisciplinary connoisseurship in our opinion the connoisseur will benefit significantly from understanding the possibilities and limitations of examination of materials and techniques applied in paintings and eventually the employment of technological (non-invasive or micro invasive) investigative analyses. By engaging the extensive range of tools available within technical art history to the valuation of paintings, we will not only foster mutual understanding between related fields within the cultural sector, the work of collectors and the appreciation of collections at large will also benefit greatly from this.
CATS has experience in offering short 3-4 day courses in technical art history where art historians, auctioneers and additional fields of interest can experience the full range of analytical possibilities available in order to gain understanding of what a sound and scientifically founded survey of the complex structures of paintings may offer. The courses focus on the interdisciplinary and technical evaluation of paintings in order to decide on further examinations to complement and consolidate suggestions of authorship.
This paper will explain the structure of the courses offered by CATS and describe a few case studies in which collaboration between connoisseurs, conservators and conservation scientists would have been beneficial.
Original languageDanish
Publication date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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