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What is a Masterpiece?

Museums and art galleries are, by definition, a repository of outstanding artworks. But which one do curators hold out as the best of their kind, and why? What is, really, a masterpiece? A world-renown expert, Isabelle Leroy-Jay Lemaistre examines how the definition of a “masterpiece” as well as taste and connoisseurship has changed over time. The paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, and drawings she uses as examples reflect three major themes: the changing historical and cultural definitions of a masterpiece; authenticity and connoisseurship; and the evolution of taste and scholarship.

Isabelle Leroy-Jay Lemaistre is the chief curator of sculpture at le Musée du Louvre. Our thanks to French Cultural Services of the Consular Général de France à Chicago and Le Musée du Louvre.


Recorded Thursday, January 21, 2010 at Alliance Française de Chicago.

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