Judge Rules Benjamin West Altarpiece Can Go to Boston

Posted in museums, on site by Editor on July 21, 2013

From The Art Newspaper (11 July 2013) . . .

Anglican Court Says Benjamin West Altarpiece Can Go to Boston
City of London church to sell the masterpiece to fund repairs

By Martin Bailey

Thomas Malton (1748-1804), St Stephen Walbrook, London, watercolour over pencil, heightened with scratching out 26  x 18 inches (646 x 447 mm), Lowel Libson LTD (London).

Thomas Malton (1748-1804), St Stephen Walbrook, London, watercolour over pencil, heightened with scratching out, 26 x 18 inches (646 x 447 mm)
Lowell Libson LTD (London).
West’s Devout Men Taking Away the Body of St Stephen is visible at the altar.

A Church of England court has ruled that Benjamin West’s altarpiece, Devout Men Taking Away the Body of St Stephen, 1776, which was made for one of the most important churches in the City of London can be sold for display in the US. The $2.85m painting is being bought by an anonymous foundation, which is due to lend it to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (The Art Newspaper, April 2013, pp6–7 and June 2013, p3). West was born in America, but worked in England.

In his judgment, delivered on 10 July, Judge Nigel Seed, chancellor of the consistory court of the Diocese of London, ruled that St Stephen Walbrook should be allowed to sell the masterpiece. The painting had been removed from the church in around 1987, in what he described as “perceived illegal actions”, and has since been kept in storage. . .

The full article is available here»

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As a starting place in the scholarly literature:

Jerry D. Meyer, “Benjamin West’s St Stephen Altar-Piece: A Study
in Late Eighteenth-Century Protestant Church Patronage and English
History Painting,” The Burlington Magazine 118 (September 1976): 634-41.

Conference | Materializing the Spirit: Art and Women Religious

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on July 21, 2013

From the conference programme:

Materializing the Spirit: Spaces, Objects, and Art in the Cultures of Women Religious
Histories of Women Religious of Britain and Ireland (HWRBI) 2013 Conference
Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, London, 5–7 September 2013

coverThis conference explores architecture, art, and design produced by and for women religious in Britain and Ireland from the Middle Ages to the present. Keynote speakers are Mary Schoeser on textiles and interiors, and Julian Luxford on medieval convents. Presenters include Emily Gee (English Heritage), Tim Knox (Fitzwilliam Museum), and Helen Hills (York). The conference also includes a thematic tour of the V&A’s collections. Additional information is available at the HWRBI website.

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T H U R S D A Y ,  5  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 3

2.00 – 3.30 Women Religious and the Arts at the V&A
Tessa Murdoch (Acting Keeper of Metalwork, Sculpture, Ceramics and Glass, V&A) will lead a tour of the museum’s collections. Places are limited. Further information on registration.

F R I D A Y ,  6  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 3

9.00  Registration and Refreshments

9.30  Welcome and Introduction

9.45  Session I: Place and Purpose, chaired by Caroline Bowden (QMUL)

• Roderick O’Donnell FSA, ‘The Pugins’ Houses of men and women contrasted’

• Michael O’Boyle (Bluett & O’Donoghue Architects), ‘The nature and character of convent buildings in Ireland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’

• Sue Acheson RSCJ, ‘Space for the Heart: Representing Devotion in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart, Roehampton’

11.15  Break

11.30  Session II: Patrons and Subjects, chaired by Dominic Janes (Birkbeck)

• Tim Knox (Fitzwilliam Museum), ‘A Soldier and a Nun: Two “Ancestral Portraits” of English Sitters by Pietro-Tommaso Labruzzi’

• Patricia Harris CJ, ‘The Mystery of the “Painted Life” of Mary Ward’

• Anselm Nye (QMUL), ‘Artistic and Comic: The cartoon as historical memory amongst the English Dominican Sisters’

1.00  Lunch

2.00  Session III: Material and Immaterial, chaired by Carmen Mangion (Birkbeck)

• Susan O’Brien (Cambridge), ‘A Spirituality Represented: Images of the Holy Child in the Society of the Holy Child Jesus, England since 1846’

• Helen Hills (York), ‘Making Religion Matter?’

3.00  Break

3.15  Teaching and Publishing Session

“…Nuns are a remote reality, detached from the world”: The Challenges of Teaching and Researching Female Religious Life, (Session sponsored by History Lab Plus, IHR & Higher Eduction Academy)

5.00  Break

5.15  Keynote I | Mary Schoeser (President, The Textile Society), ‘Fair and beautiful to behold’

6.15  Reception and H-WRBI Annual Meeting

8.00 Conference Dinner

S A T U R D A Y ,  7  S E P T E M B E R  2 0 1 3

9.00  Registration and Refreshments

9.30  Session IV: Space and Context, chaired by Lynne Walker (IHR)

• Ellie Pridgeon (Leicester), ‘Space and Location: The Cloister Paintings at Lacock Abbey’

• Deirdre Raftery (UCD), ‘ “Cover the Earth with Houses”: The form and function of the convents of the Society of
the Sacred Heart in nineteenth-century Ireland, North and South’

• Brenda King (The Textile Society), ‘Stitch and Stone’

11.00  Break

11.30  Session V: Symbolism and Devotion, chaired by Jane Hamlett (RHUL)

• Kate Jordan (UCL), ‘Artists Hidden from Human View: Mysticism and Art in the Victorian Convent’

• Ayla Lepine (Yale), ‘”The Story of a Life”: Nuns at the Epicentre of Modern Visual Culture’

12.30  Lunch

1.30  Session VI: Heritage and Preservation, chaired by Emily Gee (English Heritage)

• Abbot Geoffrey Scott (Catholic Archives Society), ‘The Archives and Collections of English Nuns Deposited at Douai Abbey’

• Frederick O’Dwyer (Conservation architect), ‘Historic Irish Convents, Redundancy and Reuse’

• Sophie Andreae (Vice Chair, Bishop’s Conference Patrimony Committee), ‘Important Artefacts: Some Recent Case Studies’

• Emily Gee (English Heritage, Head of Designation), ‘Reflections on the Heritage Landscape’

3.30  Break

4.00  Keynote II | Julian Luxford, (St Andrews), ‘Nuns, Art and Patronage in Later Medieval England’

5.00  Closing remarks

5.15  Reception

To register online, visit the HWRBI Eventbrite page.

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