Artibus et Historiae no. 82 (XLI)

2020, ISSN 0391-9064

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PIERRE ROSENBERG - The Defence and Illustration of catalogues raisonnés – on the Example of Poussin (pp. 305–312)

Catalogues raisonnés are no longer in vogue. They have bad press especially at the university. Their utility has been questioned; they have been looked down on; they are allegedly no longer an indispensable tool of art-historical research; their practicality and pragmatic quality are frowned upon. Nowadays, a more interdisciplinary, more interpretative and often more risky art history is favoured. Exhibition catalogues accord them less and less space, giving preference to the ever more numerous and often quite useless essays.

The present paper wants to defend their importance and demonstrate, on the example of Poussin, that a catalogue raisonné of a painter’s work is the surest way to understand the intentions and ambitions of an artist. The role of the patron and history of a painting throughout centuries, its copies, preparatory studies and its reproductive prints provide more information on the artist and his work than an – often adventurous – analysis of literary sources which may have been used by the artist. An entry in a catalogue raisonné brings us closer to the artist, makes us familiar with him and makes us love him. The present paper outlines the history of catalogue raisonnés of the painted work of Poussin.

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