New book on authenticity

January 29 2013

Image of New book on authenticity

Picture: Ashgate

This sounds like a good buy - a new book on 'Art and Authenticity' by the staff of the Sotheby's Institute. It's edited by Megan Aldrich and Jos Hackforth-Jones, who are respectively the Academic Director and Director of the Institute. I'm pleased to see from the blurb that the authors still see a role for connoisseurship, and despite the increasing reliance placed on scientific analysis:

Historically, the idea of scientific verification has arisen as a reaction against the perceived excesses of the connoisseurial tradition, a tradition which has fallen from favour over the last 50 years. The idea of individual 'expert knowledge' rests uneasily in the current climate. However, recent attempts by experts to develop definitive scientific methods for authenticating artworks are also proving to be problematic. Connoisseurship, it will be argued, still has its role to play within these debates.

I give regular talks in the gallery here, and lectures at UCL, to Sotheby's Institute students, because it's one of the few places where art history students are taught about connoisseurship. So I'm always keen to help out if I can. Incidentally, Sotheby's Institute is no longer anything to do with Sotheby's - the auction house sold it off a few years ago.

As David Packwood notes over on Art History Today, this is a timely publication. The book is published by Ashgate - venerable publishers where you can also sample some of my writing....

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