Wednesday 2 November 2011

polemics and attribution

A higher public profile comes at a considerable cost.
Writing about newly discovered works - I do not offer an attribution service - and responding to the dozens of "new Leonardos" I am now sent (4 in the last month) lays me open to all sorts of abuse and arbitrary polemics. Such is the unpleasantness of the polemics, not least from people who seem only to be able to confirm their status in their own eyes through the generation of noise, that I have given serious thought to saying I will not even consider looking at items that have newly appeared. I will give an example in my next post.
 However, I do feel some public responsibility - a responsibility that comes with the privilege of dealing with some of the greatest artefacts that have been created - and I have decided that I will lay out my reasoning as clearly as I can in various published media and leave it at that. If someone can really demonstrate that I am wrong, so be it. There is no point in getting caught up in argument for the sake of it.
On more practical grounds, I am revising the section on attribution in the "Rules of Engagement" on my website. The new section will read:

"I am bombarded with images of works of art that owners are claiming to be by Leonardo or by another major artist. Most are very remote from works by the proposed author. I am then often abused for failing to support the attribution.

In future I will only respond to messages about works that are really worth considering, for whatever reason. It is recommended that the services of a local museum / gallery are consulted first, before sending to me.

I do not offer an authentication service.

No opinion is given on value, and only historical judgments are expressed.

The first step is the provision of a good quality photograph or digital image (not above 5MB).
Large bodies of documentation / technical and other analysis will not be read unless so agreed in advance.

If it is made clear at any point that I do not consider the matter worth pursuing, no further correspondence will be answered.

No fees will be accepted for undertaking any research that might follow."

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