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.

Friday 6 May 2016

Leonardo La Bella Principessa: personalisation of the debate

In view the personalised nature of recent postings on the web about the attribution to Leonardo da Vinci of the profile of Bianca Sforza on vellum, I wish to make the following statement.

I wholly reject the personalisation of the debate. A matter of professional judgement is just that and no more. I would rather be right than wrong, but no-one has a divine prerogative to be right.
The totality of the evidence about Leonardo's authorship and the identity of the sitter presents what is close to an open-and-shut case. If genuinely new and decisive evidence indicates to the contrary I will accept that.
Ultimately a single attribution is not a "big deal" to me, either in the local terms of my publications on Leonardo over 50 years, or far more importantly in human terms - it is not a matter of life and death, and pales into insignificance in the light of the problems faced by those less fortunate than those of us who have the time and means at debate such matters.

(I will not be saying more on this unless genuinely new evidence comes to light, with the exception of a long-arranged talk at the Art in Authentication Congress in the Hague on 12th May, and a chapter in my forthcoming book, Living with Leonardo [2017].)