Thoughts On Furniture Attributions & CDWA
You’ve often heard me rant about furniture attributions being applied to furniture in a flippant manner – “heavily carved + Rosewood” = Belter or Meeks. R. J. Horner is probably the most abused name next to George Hunzinger.
I would propose that we dust of some of the qualifiers that are listed below. Based on the Categories for the Description of Works of Art (CDWA) by the Art Information Task Force (AITF), I’ve reorganized their “Creator Qualifiers” into three lists of what I believe to be most useful to least useful (but still possibly relevant) when used to describe a “creator” of a piece of furniture.
I’m not saying I’m personally going to flip a switch and start heavily leveraging these. I’m just blowing the dust off of them and putting them in a convenient place for discussion and reference.
- No attribution qualifier: Using no attribution qualifier indicates that the repository and most or all scholars believe that the attribution to the named artist is certain.
- attributed to: Use to express minor to moderate uncertainty regarding the attribution to a known artist, architect, or corporate body, as when the work’s provenance, style, or physical characteristics strongly suggest a given creator, but the attribution cannot be validated with absolute certainty (e.g., attributed to Frans Hals (Dutch painter, ca. 1581-1666)).
- probably by: Use to express minor uncertainty regarding the attribution, generally indicating a slightly stronger probability than attributed to.
- possibly by: Use to express significant uncertainty regarding attribution, indicating notably greater uncertainty than attributed to.
- formerly attributed to: Use to refer to an attribution that had been accepted in the past, but is no longer generally held to be valid (e.g., formerly attributed to Yan Wengui (Chinese, active ca. 970-1030)).
- manufactory of: Use for a work by an unknown artist working for a named manufactory or factory, which is typically larger than a studio or workshop, and typically produces porcelain, tapestries, furniture, and occasionally fine art.
- style of: Use for a work by an unknown artist whose style is strongly under the influence of the style of the named master (e.g., style of Raphael [e.g. Belter]).
- manner of: Use for a work by an unknown artist whose style or elements of whose style are somewhat close to the style of the named artist, but whose work does not seem to be a deliberate copy of the named artist, and who generally lived in a period after the named artist.
- school of: Use for a work by an artist or architect whose style is influenced by the named artist or architect or by the associates of the named artist, who is living at the same time or shortly after the named artist, but is not known to be a pupil or direct follower of the named artist (e.g., school of Rembrandt).
- follower of: Use for a work by an unknown artist or architect whose style is strongly influenced by the named artist or architect, and who is living at the same time as or shortly after the named artist, but is not necessarily his or her pupil (e.g., follower of Hokusai).
- circle of: Use for a work by an unknown artist who appears to be associated with the named artist, he or she is living at the same time as the named artist, and probably had some contact with him or her, but not is necessarily his or her pupil.
- workshop of: Use for a work by an unknown artist or architect working under a master’s name, generally in a system of apprenticeship common from ancient times through the mid-17th century (workshop of Gislebertus).
- studio of: Use for a work by an unknown artist working for a named artist in a system common after the 16th century, when master artists took on pupils who were learning to be artists rather than apprentices who were learning a trade.
- office of: Use for a work by an unknown architect working for a named architect in the 18th century through the present, when the group of people working for the architect calls itself an office (e.g., office of ChristopherWren).
- atelier of: Use for a work by an unknown artist working for a named studio that called itself an atelier, generally reserved for those studios located in France, or in Britain after the 18th century.
- assistant to: Use for a work by an unknown artist or architect working as an assistant to a named artist or architect whose staff is relatively small in number and do not call themselves a studio or an office. Also use for an assistant who worked in a studio or office, but in a special, close relationship to the named artist or architect.
- pupil of: Use for a work by an unknown artist working under a named artist, where the relationship is apparently close, probably a student/teacher relationship; implies the unknown artist is probably younger or less experienced than the named artist; synonymous with student of.
- associate of: Use for a work by an unknown artist working with a named artist, where the relationship is between two peers rather than between a student and teacher.
- after: Use for a work by an unknown artist who has created a copy of a known work of the named artist.
- copyist of: Use for a work by an unknown artist whose style seems to be a deliberate copy of the style of the named artist, but when the work at hand is not a direct copy of a known work by the named artist (e.g., copyist of Rodin).