Understanding British Portraits Research Network

Posted in fellowships, opportunities, resources by Freya Gowrley on July 29, 2011

The Understanding British Portraits Research Network is an active network with free membership for professionals working with British portraits including curators, museum learning professionals, researchers, academics, and conservators. Having come across the network via its exciting 2012 bursary announcement, I was really impressed with the project’s promotion of, and research into, the British portrait. The maximum funding of £500 is intended to cover five days of research, along with accommodations and travel expenses. With news, an annual seminar, and several bursaries, the network is a resource many will find useful. FG

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The Understanding British Portraits Network Bursary for 2012
Applications due by 8 September 2011

The Understanding British Portraits network is led by the National Portrait Gallery, the National Trust, The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Renaissance North East and Renaissance South West. It aims to enhance the knowledge and understanding of portraits in all media in British collections, and to facilitate future dialogue and debate around research methodologies, interpretation, display and learning programmes. The network has a particular interest in promoting the research and interpretation of regional collections. More information can be found on the UBP website: www.portraits.specialistnetwork.org.uk.

This bursary will give the successful candidate the opportunity to devote five working days, over a period of almost six months, to a portrait-focused project of their choosing. Projects can involve a particular portrait, artist, collection, pattern of collecting, method of display, interpretation, or learning programme. The UBP network will provide a maximum budget of £500 to offset expenses such as travel and accommodation. The successful candidate is free to determine the best means of using their budget in order to complete their project; this might include a visit to the National Portrait Gallery’s Heinz Archive and Library to conduct research and meet with relevant members of staff. Applications should take the form of a concise outline (max. 500 words) of the proposed project. The proposal should include:

  • a description of the project and clear objectives
  • proposed activities involved in your project
  • specific partners expected to be involved in your research (e.g. local libraries, private collections, auction houses, museums, etc.)
  • desired outcomes and target audience
  • CPD benefits
  • timescale of research (all projects must be completed by 23 March 2012)
  • estimated use of funds
  • how the outcomes of the bursary will be disseminated among professional colleagues within the successful candidate’s organisation and region.

Applications must be accompanied by a brief nomination from line managers.

Advice for applicants:

  • Please begin your application by stating that you are applying for the UBP network bursary, followed by your name, job title, and details of your nominee.
  • Past applicants to the UBP bursary and placement schemes are welcome to apply again.
  • The project should be realistically achievable in the limited budget and timescale.
  • The bursary cannot be spent on conference fees or training courses.

The deadline for applications and nominations is 12 noon on Friday 9 September 2011; please email both applications and nominations to ssnportraiture@npg.org.uk. Applications received after this time will not be considered. In the meantime, any queries should be sent to the same address. Applications will be assessed by the Understanding British Portraits Steering Group, and all applicants contacted before the end of September.

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P R E V I O U S  R E C I P I E N T S

Paul Holden, House and Collections Manager, Lanhydrock

Studio of Godfrey Kneller, "John Robartes, later 1st Earl of Radnor, Dressed in his Lord Privy Seal Robes," ca. 1680 (Lanhydrock, Cornwall)

My aim was to assess the connoisseurship and collecting habits of the first four Earls of Radnor and perhaps in the process recognise the provenance of our collections at Lanhydrock. Looking predominantly at portraiture my two trips to London took me to the NPG Heinz archive, the V&A art library to look at auction records and the British Library to look through remnants of Radnor correspondence. My aim is to write this research up for future publication and incorporate some of the findings as house presentation in our ‘Bringing Properties to Life’ project. I will also use the information in a lecture entitled ”The Earls of Radnor as Connoisseurs (1679-1758)’ to be held at Lanhydrock on 25 November 2011 (for further details or booking call 01208 265950). Furthermore, in putting these details together our Collections Management database will benefit from more detailed entries. I have wanted to do this research for some time now and the bursary has, at last, made it possible. The bursary programme worked extremely well and facilitated research which may not have been possible through the daily work pattern. I
fully applaud the scheme and am grateful for the opportunity to participate. Thank you
for giving me the opportunity to pursue this line of research. It was an experience that I
found very enriching both personally, academically and culturally.

Jo Cairns, Museum Assistant, Mount Edgcumbe House

Girl in a green dress, English School, early 17th century

The project set out to enhance our understanding of several seventeenth-century portraits in the Mount Edgcumbe collection, hopefully shedding new light on the story of the Edgcumbe family and therefore improving our ability to interpret these portraits for the public.

The four portraits chosen for the project were of unidentified sitters and were by unidentified artists. They had all been ‘cleaned’ and ‘retouched’ at various intervals in the past making them all the more difficult to decipher. Research was undertaken into the inscriptions, symbols and heraldry shown in some of the portraits, the costume worn by the sitters and the Edgcumbe family history. This all helped to date the portraits more accurately and narrow down the possible identities of the sitters. In one instance it enabled me to positively identify one of the portraits as Sir Richard Edgcumbe (1565-1639).

This project has benefitted me personally in a number of ways. It significantly increased my confidence in researching and working with the portrait collection at Mount Edgcumbe, and has also increased my understanding of many subjects I had not foreseen, for example costume, heraldry and painting conservation techniques. I believe the project has also been extremely beneficial to Mount Edgcumbe, allowing me to dedicate time on research which would otherwise not have been done.

North American Conference on British Studies, November 2011

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on July 29, 2011

Annual Meeting of the North American Conference on British Studies
Denver, 18-20 November 2011

Registration is now open for the 2011 annual meeting of the North American Conference on British Studies, hosted by the Western Conference on British Studies. The conference will take place November 18-20, 2011, at the Sheraton Downtown Denver, right in the heart of the city. Details are available here»

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