A World without the Wellcome?

Posted in resources by Editor on May 25, 2010

From the Editor

As a former research associate at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, I’m as dismayed as anyone at the recent announcement that the Centre will be closing. The Wellcome has played an immensely valuable role for scholars across multiple disciplines, including art history. Thanks in part to the importance of Roy Porter for the Centre (and of course the importance of the Enlightenment for the history of medicine), the Wellcome has provided valuable institutional support for the field of eighteenth-century studies generally. The announcement also raises questions about the fate of the Wellcome Library, which includes an unrivaled collection of visual resources, much of which has been available online (reassurances have been made, but it’s difficult for me to imagine the Library without the Centre; at the very least, its mission would change).* For more information, see the announcement at the UCL website, a brief article at The Times Higher Education, and this editorial from the Telegraph. I hope you’ll consider signing the following petition.

-Craig Hanson

To:  UCL/The Wellcome Trust

On March 31st the Wellcome Trust and UCL announced the closure of the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine. This decision came in the middle of negotiations concerning the normal quinquennial review of funding for the Centre. The proposal to close the Centre was made by a handful of persons within the Wellcome Trust without, as far as is known, the involvement of any historian of medicine. We call upon the Trust to reconsider its decision, reinstate the independent peer review process, and permit any subsequent Centre to remain within the Wellcome building. We call upon UCL to maintain the history of medicine as a visible entity within College serving both historians and medics.

* N.B. –– Regarding the fate of the Library, please see this posting, added 26 May 2010.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

Roy Porter Memorial Lecture by Quentin Skinner, Political Liberty: The Enlightenment Debate
Wellcome Building, 183 Euston Road, London, 26 May 2010

With the announcement of the closure of the Centre by UCL and the Wellcome Trust, and the uncertainty regarding the precise details of the two-year wind-down, the 2010 Roy Porter Memorial lecture will be the last. Professor Quentin Skinner will talk on Political Liberty: The Enlightenment Debate, a subject Roy would have particularly enjoyed.

Jeremy Bentham announced in 1776 that he had made a ‘discovery’ about the concept of liberty. John Lind put forward a similar view in his official response to the Declaration of Independence, but Lind was persuaded (not least by Bentham himself) to accept that Bentham had been the first to articulate the argument. Bentham’s view was primarily directed against the pamphlets of the common lawyer Richard Hey, while Lind’s was more ambitiously directed against the pro-American writings of Richard Price. The lecture begins by examining the background to the theory that Lind denounced, and then turns to examine the background to the rival theory that he and Bentham both espoused. As the latter discussion unfolds, a doubt about Bentham’s claims to originality begins to arise. The lecture ends by suggesting that the earliest articulation of the theory that he claimed as his own was in fact the work of Thomas Hobbes.

The lecture will be held on May 26th in the Wellcome Building, 183 Euston Road. Attendance is free on receipt of an e-ticket which may be obtained by emailing: hom-events@ucl.ac.uk.

Old Master Drawings in Grenoble

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 25, 2010

From the evene.fr site:

De chair et d’esprit: Les dessins italiens du musée de Grenoble (XVe — XVIIIe siècles)
Musée de Grenoble, 6 March – 30 May 2010

Giovanni Battista Piazzetta (1682-1754), "Bust of a Young Woman," Black chalk and charcoal, heightened with white gouache - 37.6 x 30.4 cm (Grenoble: Musée de Grenoble)

Le musée de Grenoble a entrepris d’étudier et de publier les 3500 dessins anciens (du XVe au XVIIIe siècle) conservés dans ses collections, en présentant chaque année, sur trois ans, une sélection des oeuvres les plus représentatives de ce fonds. Un fonds qui était demeuré jusqu’alors largement inexploité et pour l’essentiel inédit. En 2010, la première étape de cette démarche sera consacrée à l’Italie et permettra de découvrir près de 120 dessins issus des différents foyers artistiques de la péninsule. L’étude et la mise en valeur de ses collections sont parmi les missions premières d’un musée. A Grenoble, alors que la majeure partie des peintures et sculptures ont été publiées, les équipes travaillent depuis plusieurs années sur le fonds d’art graphique.

◊  ◊  ◊  ◊  ◊

A review of the exhibition by Didier Rykner from The Art Tribune is available in English here»

. . . . We were struck during our visit to this exhibition in Grenoble by the quality of the works which nonetheless remained totally unknown until now, even to specialists. Furthermore, we would like to commend the museum for its determination to explore and catalogue all of its collections, an undertaking begun many years ago and which its current director, Guy Tossato, continues to pursue. Next year, after the Italian drawings, the museum will highlight French drawings before the 19th century, then will present Northern European sheets. Let us hope that the entire collection will soon be published, a feat not yet achieved, to our knowledge, by any of the other provincial museums.

The accompanying catalogue is available through Michael Shamansky’s artbooks.com. Eric Pagliano, Catherine Monbeig Goguel, and Philippe Costamagna, De chair et d’esprit, dessins italiens du musée de Grenoble XVe –XVIIIe siecle (Paris: Somogy, 2010), ISBN: 9782757203057, $65.

%d bloggers like this: