ARTH 550
The History, Theory, and Problem of Connoisseurship Spring 2020
Division I

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The museum and market have long relied upon the “talent” of a chosen few “connoisseurs,” whose abilities (i.e. “the expert eye”)-shrouded in mythology and vaguery-have profoundly influenced the interpretation of objects. This seminar will interrogate the problematic construct of connoisseurship in the market (Duveen), in the museum (Pope-Hennessy), and in the academy (Berenson). Through readings about the history and theory of the practice from the sixteenth century to the modern day, we will reassess the meaning, and validity, of connoisseurship in visual culture. And, through conversations about authorship, working methods, and artistic intent, we will question what we learn from close looking. This seminar will include case studies using objects in the Clark’s permanent collection, focusing on in-depth discussions of materials, techniques, attribution, quality, and the burgeoning field of conservation science. Students will be asked to conduct their own rigorous object-based research.
The Class: Type: Seminar
Limit: None
Expected: 12
Class#: 3972
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation, writing assignments
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: MA students, then advanced art history major undergraduates
Distributions: Division I

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