Monday, 16 May 2016

Attribution and other issues, mainly Leonardo da Vinci

After speaking at the Art in Authentication Congress in The Hague, I confirm that I am withdrawing the "advice service" I have been providing. This is the relevant statement.


Attribution and other enquiries


After almost 40 years of responding carefully to every message about attribution and other enquiries, including many concerning supposed “secrets” hidden in Leonardo’s works, I am stepping aside from this aspect of my activity. As a professor, I have been committed to the notion of public service, and have not taken any money for opinions, but the quantity of material I receive and the abuse to which I am subsequently subject on the internet means that this ideal is no longer sustainable in the IT age. I am sorry. This is a pity, but my work as a historian in public is being seriously distorted, not least by the unnecessary personalisation of arguments about matters of judgement.  I will continue to engage selectively with a few major items/issues and with important developments in the academic and public domains.

13 comments:

  1. What you say and the decision you've made makes sense to me. I often wonder why they call it "social media" when it often seems to be exactly the opposite, more in the nature of people shouting over the tops of office cubicles. Curtis Roberts

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  2. Many thanks! I am sad that it has reached this point.

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  3. Professor Kemp. This is indeed very sad but very understandable. I have enjoyed your blog these last few years. If you will I would be grateful if you commented on two related questions I have regarding the National Gallery's Virgin of the Rocks.

    1, What about the painting convinces you that it is largely, if not entirely, autograph?

    2, What do you think of Ann Pizzorusso's refutation of the pictures status as a Leonardo based on the botany/geology found in the image?

    Being an amateur, I can find LOTS of internet pages referencing this work. I am unable to discern whether it is reputable within the art historical community or is just successful at making headline on the web.

    For what it's worth, having spent a lot of time looking at the painting in Trafalgar Square, I find it near impossible that such a beautiful, sublime painting could be the work of an assistant. And if it is, then I feel Leonardo's special status as a genius must be under threat because it seems as if many artists of the time were able to produce work of such startling quality.

    Many Thanks.

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    1. Sorry to be slow in replying..
      I think the "division of hands" in the National Gallery's Virgin of the Rocks" is complicated, not least by its prolonged period of execution, from about 1495-1506. The most significant aspects - head, hands etc manifest Leonardo's own extraordinary skills. The setting is a different matter. The loss of geological conviction in the background rock formations does suggest that some of the background is not by him. On the other hand, the rather artificial looking plants are consistent with his later botanical studies. But the whole idea of the workshop was that paintings of a very high level of quality could be produced with some degree of collaboration.

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  4. " ... and have not taken any money for opinions."

    I have come across many articles by you where you continually state that you do not take or make any money from the work that you do. If you don't then why do you insist on making that same point over and over again ?

    Methinks thou dost protest too much

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    1. Naturally you were forced into reading all of those articles. It must be extremely vexing to be made to read all of these pieces against your will only to continually confront the same statements time and time again. And then to be strong armed into visiting Professor Kemp's personal blog and creating a profile to post under. Thank God the rest of us can choose to stop reading things that continually annoy us before we feel the need to waste precious moments in our life posting about it on the website of a man we clearly have little time for.

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    2. Why against my will ? Do you know my will ?
      The nature of your response sounds like you really do have something to hide. And you cannot pretend to be judge and jury as to why people read articles and then post comments. Otherwise suggest you turn off comments.
      Or it is the case that you can only handle praise and not any form of criticism ? The latter methinks

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  5. Why against my will ? Do you know my will ?
    The nature of your response sounds like you really do have something to hide. And you cannot pretend to be judge and jury as to why people read articles and then post comments. Otherwise suggest you turn off comments.
    Or it is the case that you can only handle praise and not any form of criticism ? The latter methinks

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  6. I think you need to take a chill pill and then look in the dictionary for the meaning of the word irony.

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  7. If I have repeated the statement that I take no money for attributions etc. it is because of repeated innuendos to the contrary - and I cannot assume that everyone has read previous statements. Since I have now pulled out of giving opinions of authorship, I needn't make the statement any more - I hope.

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  8. Sorry to hear that Martin. It must be very unpleasant to have to take abuse when you are simply trying to provide people with an informed opinion. It's a difficult day for Britain today too. Hope you are well et least. Lucille

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