Michael Quick
George Inness: A Catalogue Raisonné.
Rutgers University Press, 1,274 pages (two volumes), $400

In today’s world, the production of a catalogue raisonné—the complete inventory of an artist’s oeuvre, in which the provenance, exhibition history, and published criticism of each work is comprehensively documented—is nearly a Herculean feat. The market for costly reference books was always small and largely limited to university libraries, which are increasingly unwilling or unable to buy such specialized literature, preferring to invest in online reference works. This has not been lost on academic publishing houses, which once viewed it as their duty to bring out the significant scholarship on the canonical figures, regardless of the market. But without a canon, there can scarcely be canonical figures. Finally, the pressures of an academic career tend to discourage the kind of selfless...


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