Recap— 2017 ASA Personal Property Annual Connoisseurship Conference

ASA’s 2017 Personal Property Annual Connoisseurship Conference took place on May 4-6, 2017, at the Hilton Boston Bay Back Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts. This year’s theme—The Eye of the Beholder—A Revolution of Materials and Methods—attracted personal property appraisers from across the country, all eager to learn from a range of seasoned and well-regarded professionals.

Presenters drew on their experience as appraisers, museum directors, curators, auction house specialists, economists, artists, scientists, gallerists, collectors and scholars to put together a unique educational program. They traced the evolution of—and revolutions in—materials and methods in creating objects of personal property. Traditional connoisseurship and research met with the newest methods of scientific analysis to address issues of identification, provenance, cultural significance, artistic movements and market trends.

Presentations included Marks, Signatures, and Unique Characteristics of the Object; Museum Best Practices in Provenance Research and Collecting Cultural Property;asa_conference-276 New Techniques for Identifying Proteins and Modern Organic Pigments; The Development, Current Use and Pitfalls of Connoisseurship; Identifying Ceramics Through Material and Method of Manufacturer; Stoneware in America; Current Trends in British Ceramics at Auction; Boston Silver and Boston Arts and Crafts Silver, Particularly “Colonial Revival” Silver; Changing Demographics and Its Effect on Values; A Deeper Look: Frames Designed By and For Artists; Asian Art and Asian Styles in Colonial America; and The American Impressionists in Connecticut. Participants left with a new appreciation for the intricacies and complexities involved in appraising fine and decorative arts.

Memorable topics and quotes from ASA 2017 Personal Property Presenters

“Generational marketing is no longer a one size fits all approach. Each generation is defined and described in terms of the time period in which the generation grew up [as well as its] characteristics, lifestyles, attitudes, and values”— Analee McClellan, presentation on Changing Demographics and the Effect on Value

“As an appraiser, you are not an authenticator, but you are responsible for how you identify what you are appraising. You must be a Connoisseur capable of clearly and factually identifying the object, and explaining how confident you are of that identity.”— Peter V. Sorlien, presentation on Pillars of Identification: Marks and Signatures

“A good picture deserves a good frame and a bad picture may sometimes preserve its place longer by having a handsome frame.”— Suzanne Smeaton referencing Charles Willson Peale observation for Frame Designs by and for Artists

Attendees reconnected with their colleagues and networked with rising stars at a welcome reception sponsored by Kersten’s Antiques and the ASA Boston Chapter, and a cocktail reception at Vose Galleries, est. 1841, IMG_5794the oldest family-owned art gallery in America. The conference included tours to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design’s Print Making Shop, where students demonstrated printmaking techniques. The well-attended post-conference offered a difficult choice between trips to the Peabody Essex Museum or to Cogswell’s Grant.

To view photos from this year’s conference, click here.

A special thank you to the conference planning committee, chair Nelson O. Clayton, FASA, Karen Waterman, ASA, Deborah Miller, Analee McClellan, ASA, and Peter Sorlien, ASA; the conference marketing committee, chair Brooks Rice, ASA, Lise Johnson, ASA, and Morgan W. Eldrige, ASA.asa_conference-8

Thank you to Bonhams and Kersten’s Anitques, our Gold Sponsor; Collectrium, our Silver Sponsor; Hagerty and ASA Boston Chapter, our Bronze Sponsor; Skinner Inc., our Tote Bags Sponsor; and Antiques and the Arts Weekly, Artex Fine Art Services, and Freeman’s Auctioneers & Appraisers, our Friend Sponsor.


Save the Date
2018 ASA Personal Property Annual Connoisseurship Conference will be May 2-4, 2018 in Dearborn, Michigan.

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