In a review in the New York Times this morning of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition of drawings at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the author remarks on Leonardo’s belief in “sapere vedere” or “knowing how to see”. Truer words were never spoken and I feel that a goodly number of people in the design and art world should pay much greater heed to this maxim.
To truly understand any art subject, you must train your eye. It is not a “natural” attribute that people are born with. Yes, some people are quicker at picking things up, but that has always been the case. I still don’t understand chemistry, but fortunately, it is not a visual prerequisite for an English furniture dealer.
It is quite easy to learn how to look at things, but it does take time. There is really no excuse for not being able to identify the most rudimentary aspects of furniture, from the timbers they are made from to the styles they (claim to) represent. Would I say that an expert must know all these things? Yes, absolutely! Leonardo definitely had it right.