A Clue against Clues

There is no property less congenial to a Bird, as we understand that fugitive spirit, than a clue: for a clue leads elsewhere. Therefore it would seem that the work of Giovanni Morelli, AKA Ivan Lermolieff—in which he proposes the value of such unregarded accidentals of the pictorial art as the shape of an ear, taken as keys to the mysteries of attribution, and a sovereign antidote to the sleights of the forgers—his work must be anathema to the Order. Some evidence has come to light, however, suggesting not only Morelli’s contact with practitioners in Germany, but that this very notion of clue might have arisen precisely as a tactic of negation. Which possibility reminds those of us concerned with the history of the Order that its traces may be discernible in sites not only of apparent neglect or indifference, but of perfect opposition.

It is hoped that the documents in question will be brought to light in due course. In the meantime, Morelli’s Die Werke italienischer Meister (1880), here in its first English translation as Italian Painters (1892), is offered to the reader’s powers of induction.

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