HOW IMPORTANT IS THE DATE OF A PAINTING? When I go to an art museum, I pick out one or two paintings in each room I enter and try to spend most of my time looking at those. I was talking to my nephew Andrew Schaefer, and he mentioned that he wants to look at a painting in its historical context. He wants to see what the painter has learned from his predecessors, and how the painting compares to other paintings from the same time period. He said that the most important fact for him about a painting was the year it was done. A ten year difference in dates could well be very important. In thinking about this, I realize that my selecting only a few paintings to look at on one visit means that I am usually looking at paintings in isolation. I am usually putting art history to one side.

I have talked to a few people about this. There are some people like me who don’t pay much attention to dates of paintings; there seem to be more that think that dates are important.

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