My mother already had an advanced degree in the field. She had bought impressionist paintings in Paris in her younger years. Among her New York friends there were hundreds of valuable impressionist and post impressionist paintings that I saw often.
In the art history class we were constantly shown slides. When the instructor came to the slide of a woman in a window and said that it was painted by Jacques-Louis David I stood up and objected. I said that the painting of the woman in the window was significantly different from the other David paintings we were shown. The instructor told me to ‘F--- off’.
At my next vacation break, I went to Manhattan where I regularly stayed with my uncle and other relatives. On this first trip I went to the Metropolitan museum and went straight to the room that had only Davids in it. In the most prominent position there was the woman in the window with the name David below.
I talked to several curators including the main curator and pointed out that this painting was not done by David. I was only 16 at the time. I bought half a dozen of the Met’s postcards that showed the same image with the name David on it.
That was the winter school break. When I got back to the Met for the following Spring break, 1956, the woman in the window was no longer on the wall. And six months after that the painting was in a new room with the correct artist identified: Marie-Denise Villers.