Attributing old master paintings is one of the most difficult tasks of the art historian. While authorship has important implications for the field of art history and for valuation, little has been written on the theory and techniques of the connoisseur's work. This volume analyzes the role of the expert's intuition along with efforts to develop scientific techniques.
The author focuses on the challenges of attributing seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish art, then turns to investigating connoisseurship, arguing that to evaluate authenticity, it is necessary to understand what it meant when the paintings were created. Further discussions probe the understanding of an "original" versus a "copy" at a time when painters routinely produced multiple versions of a work; the meaning of "by the master's hand" when paintings were often produced with the help of assistants; and the significance of style when artists intentionally varied theirs depending on the subject matter or the audience.
Anna Tummers is curator of old masters in the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem, the Netherlands. She is coeditor of The Learned Eye: Regarding Art, Theory and the Artist's Reputation (Amsterdam University Press, 2005) and Art Market and Connoisseurship: A Closer Look at Paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, and Their Contemporaries (Amsterdam University Press, 2008).
“An original and absorbing book on connoisseurship of seventeenth-century pictures, which, by contrasting the practice of today with the attitudes prevalent in the seventeenth century, does not so much provide answers as challenge our approach to the whole subject. . . . Everyone interested in connoisseurship of seventeenth-century paintings should read Anna Tummers’s book.”
“By focusing primarily on Rembrandt and secondarily on Vermeer—two artists who have been at the epicenter of debates of authorship and authenticity—Anna Tummers . . . elucidates some very intricate arguments for the general reader. […] Highly recommended.”
“Anna Tummers adds an important new voice to a discussion that may pay rich dividends for the next generation of connoisseurs.”
—Historians of Netherlandish Art
“Wonderfully written, thoroughly researched and annotated, and well-illustrated.”
—Maine Antique Digest
7 1/2 x 9 3/4 inches
165 color illustrations
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum