"Goût de Comparaison"
Practices of Comparative Viewing in Eighteenth-Century Connoisseurship
In 1719, Jean-Baptiste Dubos described the connoisseurial judgement as a veritable »goût de comparaison,« literally, a taste of comparison. This early reflection on the importance of practices of comparing is surprising, and can serve as the starting point for investigating its fundamental role in art connoisseurship. What kind of preconditions, merits, implications, and limits can be connected to comparative arrangements in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries? Is it even possible to ascertain a change of comparative practices within the history of connoisseurship? Connoisseurs-so the argument-expanded specific skills by means of increasingly efficient comparisons that enabled them to systematize and categorize the vast heritage of artistic artifacts.