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Dissertation at Estonian Academy of Arts: The skills of connoisseurs are irreplaceable in identifying the author of an old art work

16.12.2021       Kristina Jõekalda
  • Koppel_esikaas.jpg

The dissertation looks at the historical and contemporary meaning of the concept of connoisseurship, a somewhat forgotten phenomenon in today’s art world. Koppel shows that although the traditional methods of a connoisseur are sometimes depicted in a charicaturesque manner, this competence of recognising artists through a multifaceted close study of their works in fact enables us to obtain valuable information not only about particular objects, but also about broader historical and cultural phenomena.

The importance of connoisseurship as an object-led close study of works of art is analysed via three case studies related to the author’s curatorial practice at the Art Museum of Estonia: 1) the oeuvre of the internationally renowned Tallinn-born painter Michel Sittow (ca. 1469–1525); 2) sixteenth-century Netherlandish Boschian art; and 3) Johannes Mikkel’s (1907–2006) art collection, on display in Kadriorg, as a historical document.

Koppel hence demonstrates the continuing relevance of the art connoisseur, and its closely intertwined relationship with technical art history, the means of which now include dendrochronology, X-ray, UV radiation etc. The interpretation of such data, however, always requires specialist art historical expertise.

Her supervisor was Prof. Krista Kodres (Estonian Academy of Arts). The external reviewers were Dr. Jaanika Anderson (University of Tartu Museum) and Dr. Anu Mänd (Tallinn University), the latter also acted as the opponent. The dissertation was defended on 10th December 2021.

The full text (in Estonian, with an English summary) can be found here:


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