CHARDIN IN PALAZZO DIAMANTI (FERRARA) till Jan 30th, then at the Prado. Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) to close
Jan 312011

There is a good story on the ArtWatch web site (below) about Gombrich’s questioning of the National Gallery’s picture cleaning policy; naturally The National Gallery brought out it’s big guns to squash such cheek in spite of the eminence of their questioner. Many years later and after much destructive cleaning Gombrich was proved right. I am glad to be abler to report that this unpleasant experience did not dim Gombrich’s courage to go on questioning the establishment.

Without his help I would have got nowhere with my questioning of the Rembrandt scholars. It was he who insisted on a meeting of the governors of The Burlington Magazine over their refusal to publish my paper. Not that the final publication (Feb.1977) made the slightest difference to subsequent scholarship. Though my paper ripped the red carpet from under them, the scholars continue as before de-attributing works, disregarding the evidence and long-standing opinion. They continue destroying Rembrandt today.

When his doubts about cleaning were finally proved justified, Gombrich wrote “I believe it was Francis Bacon who said “knowledge is power”. I had to learn the hard way that power can also masquerade as knowledge and since there are very few people able to judge these issues, they very easily get away with it.”

I hope his backing of my questions will soon evoke the very same response.

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