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Connoisseurship: who painted what, when and how to tell

Two-day short course

Short course

● Fully booked

Saturday 1 December 2018

This event has now ended

See upcoming short courses

© Martin Postle

Following the stellar success of his previous courses, renowned art historian and dealer Dr Bendor Grosvenor returns to the Royal Academy of Arts to lead an intensive weekend course focusing on connoisseurship – relevant for art lovers, collectors and art-world professionals.

In this intensive expert-led weekend course, Dr Bendor Grosvenor explores connoisseurship – the art of authenticating and dating artworks – with a focus on Old Master paintings. Participants will be introduced to the history of connoisseurship and its current practices. They will then be guided in how to assess the quality, significance, authenticity and provenance of a work of art for themselves, using both traditional and new scientific techniques. The course presents an exciting opportunity to discover what connoisseurship is all about and to see first-hand how and when it is relevant today.

Connoisseurship is a word that has become loaded with controversy, both in the field of art history and in professional practice. But at its heart it is a simple skill: the ability to tell which artist painted a painting, when they painted it, and how. It is, of course, crucial for those who work in the art trade and can make or break reputations – and fortunes.

But connoisseurship is also an essential skill for art lovers of all kinds, whether museum curators, new collectors or enthusiastic gallery visitors. In an age of increasingly sophisticated fakes and the constant emergence of new “discoveries”, being able to discern with confidence whether a painting is genuine or not has many benefits. And while connoisseurship takes time to perfect, the basic elements are easy and enjoyable to learn.

The focus of the course will be practical, as we get up close to Old Masters and other works by great artists. Through hands-on experience, led by renowned specialists, participants will learn how to assess the quality and status of a painting. Is it an original, a copy, or even an outright fake? Have there been later interventions, and have these either hid or flattered a painting’s true quality?

The theory and history of connoisseurship will also be explored, along with the latest scientific techniques for assessing attribution. Above all, the course will encourage those who love looking at paintings to look afresh with increased confidence, knowledge and curiosity.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

Saturday 1 December 2018


Wolfson British Academy Room, 6 Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts

£540. Includes all materials, light refreshments, lunch and a wine reception.