Sektion 5: Vergleichen und deuten: Semantiken der Form
Samstag, 26. März 2022, 10:00–10:30 Uhr, K2, Hörsaal 17.01
Valérie Kobi, Hamburg

Visualizing Accuracy: Reproduction Engravings in Connoisseurial Practices

In his “Idée de la perfection de la peinture”, published in 1662, the French art theorist Roland Fréart de Chambray condemned the growing interest connoisseurs of his time started to show for the artwork’s material and formal properties. He critically described the “beautez nouvelles, et à la mode du temps qui court (novel beauties, very fashionable today)” uncovered by his contemporaries, that even led them to invent a jargon including expressions such as “Franchise du pinceau, […] Touches hardies, […] Couleurs bien empastées et bien nourries, […] Detachement des Masses (Freedom of brush, […] bold Touches, […] Colors thickly impasted and well nourished)”. If Fréart de Chambray’s remarks interestingly testify to a new way of looking at paintings that seems to appear around the middle of the 17th century, they also consequently raise the question of the incidence of this freshly found approach on the art theory of the period. How was it translated into art-historical publications of the time, and which tools were deployed to make it intelligible?

This paper seeks to demonstrate that part of these strategies relied on the increasing role given to reproduction engravings, and particularly to their accuracy. Thorough illustrations became over that period a key instrument for the exchange of knowledge and offered a common ground for discussion and judgment, allowing among others to root the theory on the comparison and interpretation of the artwork’s formal characteristics.
Kurzbiografie Valérie Kobi
2008Master’s degree in Arts and Humanities, Neuchâtel (“Prolégomènes à une histoire de la restauration dans le Canton de Vaud au XXe siècle”)
2008–2012Scientific Assistant, Department of Art History and Museology, Université de Neuchâtel
2010–2011Resident Member at the Swiss Institute of Rome; Predoctoral Fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation
2012–2013Getty Residential Predoctoral Fellow, Los Angeles (Annual research theme: Color)
2014Ph.D., Université de Neuchâtel (“Dans l’œil du connaisseur. Pierre-Jean Mariette (1694–1774) et la construction des savoirs en histoire de l’art au XVIIIe siècle”) (Prix Nexans 2014)
2014–2015Postdoctoral Fellow of the Swiss National Science Foundation, LMU München
2015–2018Scientific Assistant, Universität Bielefeld (“Parergonale Rahmungen. Zur Ästhetik wissenschaftlicher Dinge bei Goethe”, BMBF-Project “Parerga und Paratexte”)
2017–2019Project Manager, Swiss Institute of Rome
since 2019Visiting Professor (Vertretungsprofessur für Kunstgeschichte der Europäischen Frühen Neuzeit), Universität Hamburg
2020–2021Postdoctoral Fellow of the Fondation Gandur pour l’Art, Geneva
Forschungs- bzw. Arbeitsschwerpunkte Eighteenth-Century Art and Theory; History of Collections and Museums; Connoisseurship; Objects and Materiality; Relationship between Art and Science
  • Les chimères de la République des Arts. Fonction et expérimentation du fac-similé scientifique dans la première moitié du XVIIIe siècle, in: Jessica Fripp et al. (Hgg.): Artistes, savants et amateurs: art & sociabilité au XVIIIe siècle, Paris 2016, S. 157–169.
  • Dans l’œil du connaisseur. Pierre-Jean Mariette (1694–1774) et la construction des savoirs en histoire de l’art, Rennes 2017.
  • (Hg. mit Johannes Grave, Christiane Holm und Caroline van Eck) Collections, Displays & the Agency of Objects, Dresden 2018.
  • (Hg.) The Limits of Connoisseurship. Attribution Issues & Mistakes. Journal of Art Historiography 16 (2017), special issue.
  • Harmonie et dissonance. La fonction de la couleur dans les collections du siècle des Lumières, in: Dix-huitième siècle 51 (2019), S. 63–75.