Doing justice to Caravaggio

August 28 2014

Image of Doing justice to Caravaggio

Picture: Wikiart, Corsini Collection, Florence

Further to my comments below (here and here) on the 'justice' of getting the right attribution for Rembrandt, here's a great comment on the importance of connoisseurship from a new book on Caravaggio by Lorenzo Pericolo and David M. Stone:

In a sense, the methodology employed by [Met curator Keith] Christiansen in his attribution of the picture [Portrait of Maffeo Barberini, above] can be deemed “canonical,” that is, characteristic of an illustrious tradition of connoisseurship. And yet, this canonicity is about to become a literal rarity. The nonchalance with which mediocre paintings continue to be ascribed to Caravaggio is undoubtedly appalling. Stone describes the possible impact of this spreading amateurishness upon future scholarship in rightly alarmed terms: “my worry is that, as fewer and fewer scholars devote themselves to problems of connoisseurship, the stage is being set for future generations of students to take these exhibition catalogues off the shelves and write term papers—even dissertations—about pictures Caravaggio almost certainly did not paint.”

I find it astonishing that critics of connoisseurship say this doesn't matter. The new book is called, Caravaggio: Reflections and Refractions, and you can read the introduction online here

Notice to "Internet Explorer" Users

You are seeing this notice because you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 (or older version). IE6 is now a deprecated browser which this website no longer supports. To view the Art History News website, you can easily do so by downloading one of the following, freely available browsers:

Once you have upgraded your browser, you can return to this page using the new application, whereupon this notice will have been replaced by the full website and its content.