THE ROLE OF CONNOISSEURSHIP IN DETERMINING THE TEXTILE CONSERVATOR'S TREATMENT OPTIONS
PATSY ORLOFSKY, & DEBORAH LEE TRUPIN
In examining the collective, specialized knowledge of our field, it is evident to the authors that textile conservators have been accumulating and responding to a great many external cultural factors. It is misleading to see ourselves as objective vessels who base conservation treatments on the traditional pillars of scientific research, art historical expertise, and conservation training. Knowledge from connoisseurs, the impact of the marketplace, the broadening and refining of our intellectual appreciation of other cultures, ingrained taboos that fashion our aesthetic tastes, and anecdotal evidence from fellow and traditional practitioners all provide guideposts that affect our treatment decisions.
Connoisseurship bias issues are neither positive nor negative but are forces that influence nearly every level of thinking in textile conservation and permeate the decision-making process. The authors believe that recognizing and accepting the connoisseurship bias as an integral part of conservation decision making and articulating why we decide to treat or not to treat certain textiles, are important signs of the maturation of the profession.