International symposium Max J. Friedländer

8 June 2017: International symposium on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Max J. Friedländer’s birth

This symposium will take place at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. The organization is a collaboration with the RKD, Rijksmuseum, the University of Bamberg and the CVNK (Contactgroep Vroege Nederlandse Kunst/Network for specialists in early Netherlandish art).

The 5th of June 2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Max J. Friedländer (1867-1958). This milestone offers an excellent opportunity to reflect on the legacy of this still well-esteemed art historian.

Max J. Friedländer (1867-1958): art-historian, museum director, connoisseur


Anoniem 1941

Portrait of Max J. Friedländer (1867-1958), 1941
The Hague, RKD - Netherlands Institute for Art [..]

Friedländer was appointed director of the Kupferstichkabinett in 1908, then subdirector of the Gemäldegalerie in 1912 and finally director of the latter in 1929. Under the energetic leadership of Wilhelm Bode, general director of the Berlin museums, Friedländer developed into a recognised connoisseur and author of over eight hundred publications, of which Die Altniederländische Malerei (Early Netherlandish Painting) and Von Kunst und Kennerschaft (On Art and Connoisseurship) are the best known.

In the history of art history Friedländer is primarily associated with ”connoisseurship”, a competence which he considered most important. According to Friedländer, connoisseurship embodies a subjective form of scholarship and can only be gained by practice. The lack of a theoretical underpinning and the impossibility of factual verification, however, gradually led to the decline of connoisseurship as a scholarly method, especially in the academic field.

The symposium aims at highlighting Friedländer’s merits for the history of art. Specialists from Belgium, Germany, the United States and The Netherlands will present a diverse range of papers that will call attention to Friedländer’s work as museum official, scholar and connoisseur. Moreover, the relevance of connoisseurschip for today’s art history will be discussed.


Download programme (pdf)

Program Committee

  • Suzanne Laemers M.A. (RKD)
  • Dr. Matthias Ubl (Rijksmuseum)
  • Dr. Eveliina Juntunen (Universität Bamberg)

Information and tickets


8 June 2017, 9:00–18:00


Rijksmuseum Auditorium



Price & Registration

Regular: € 45

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Student: € 30

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Friend of the RKD: € 30

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Sponsored by the Friends of the RKD