Art History at Cambridge

There was an event tonight to celebrate the teaching of art history at Cambridge.   Reference was made to its antecedents in the 1950s, when Michael Jaffé was teaching in the architecture department, Francis Haskell was a Fellow of King’s, and Michael Baxandall and Michael Podro were undergraduates, but of English not art history (Baxandall was a pupil of Leavis at Downing).   The tradition really began with the appointment of Jaffé to run a separate fine arts department, based on the model of the Fogg, where he had been – rather briefly – a student.   I remember the core to the methodology as being the comparative method, requiring students to write about the relationship between objects, rather than the identification and attribution of single works, as was supposedly required by the Courtauld.   Not a bad discipline.

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