Rembrandt, Reputation, and the Practice of Connoisseurship

Synopsis

Rembrandt, Reputation, and the Practice of Connoisseurship is the first full-length study of the scholarly formation of the corpus of Rembrandt paintings at the end of the nineteenth century. From 1870 to 1935 the first true catalogues raisonnes of Rembrandt's paintings were produced, incorporating the results of individual connoisseurs' evaluations of authenticity and quality. The book concentrates on the written connoisseurship of Wilhelm von Bode, Abraham Bredius, Cornelis Hofstede de Groot and Wilhelm Valentiner, who, in their articles and catalogues published between 1870 to 1935, shaped the modern conception of Rembrandt as a painter through their delineation of his oeuvre. Their conception of Rembrandt was not challenged in print until the 1960s, and even today their decisions are referenced by other scholars. At a time when Rembrandt connoisseurship has again returned to the forefront of academic concerns with this artist, it is of great value to understand how earlier scholars reached their conclusions about the limits and characteristics of Rembrandt's painted oeuvre. In addition to analyzing their written work, the book includes discussions of the social context of their connoisseurial practices, as shaped by these scholars' museum careers and their relationships with dealers and collectors during a period of rapid expansion of the art market, through the founding and development of new museums in Europe and the US and the extraordinary boom in private collecting with the entry of American collectors into the Old Master market in the 1890s.

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