Women's Expertise and the Culture of Connoisseurship
This special issue of Visual Resources focuses on the role of women in the culture of connoisseurship during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Its nine articles provide further evidence for a known fact about the role of women in the art world of the time: the problem lies not in the historical lack of contributions, but in the historiographical silencing of women's work and voices effected by the problematic gendering of modernity in the twentieth century. In fact, the lack of an
... the lack of an academic discourse for art history in Britain until the 1930s entailed that connoisseurship was practiced mostly outside academia, which meant that women could develop their expertise in spite of having restricted access to universities. Our aim is not only to redress the gender imbalance in art historiography, but also to reassess the definition of connoisseurship as a "disseminated practice." Rather than identifying connoisseurship with the act of attribution performed by one gifted individual, our authors put an emphasis on the culture of connoisseurship, intended as a web of expertise and professional networks. The flourishing of the art press and the empirical methods of scientific connoisseurship provided women with novel opportunities to earn critical authority in a disciplinary field that was still in the making.