Philostrate : A Collaborative Site Devoted to Anonymous Works or Unknown Whereabouts

9/6/12 - Internet - A group of art historians on Facebook, under the name of Connoisseur, is now posting art works, inviting other members to identify the artists. This new game brings together many curators, academics, dealers or simply amateurs of various nationalities, be they French, American, English, Italian, Spanish...

The website, recently created by Guillaume Kientz, a curator at the Département des Peintures at the Louvre, with the help of several friends, has two functions for the moment, one of which is a bit similar to the principle of Connoisseur (and has the same name), but with a different purpose. While the second is a game which consists in recognizing artists already identified, the aim of Philostrate is to find attributions for paintings (only) considered until now anonymous, residing exclusively in public collections.
This is a collaborative site, meaning that after introducing oneself, anyone can post a work and suggest a name. Eventually, the goal is to create a large database of anonymous paintings belonging to museums or churches, and open up discussions among specialists so as to come up with possible attributions.

Charles-Joseph Natoire (1700-1777)
Study after the Apse of Notre-Dame-
des-Doms in Avignon
, c. 1730
Oil on Canvas
Angers, Musée des Beaux-Arts
Photo : Didier Rykner

A few days ago, we added a painting we had just photographed at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Angers where it was identified as being from the 17th century Italian school (ill.). Due to an amusing coincidence, while leafing through the latest book published by Arthéna on Charles Natoire, we found this work as newly attributed to this artist.

The second part of the site is devoted to paintings with unknown whereabouts. These are either mentioned in the sources (but in this case the description is detailed enough so as to elicit an identification), or else they are known through an engraving, a drawing, a copy or finally, because they have been catalogued or published in a recent art history book which does not give their location. Here again, anyone can contribute elements to the database, which in time, should become very useful.

This recently created site is just starting out. Do not hesitate to offer your advice. Other sections will soon be added, including notably a blog focusing on these problems.

Version française

Didier Rykner, mardi 12 juin 2012

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