Exhibition | Ages of Wonder: Scotland’s Art 1540 to Now

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on November 8, 2017

Thomas Hamilton (1784–1858) RSA, Design for National Gallery and Royal Scottish Academy.

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Press release from the National Galleries of Scotland:

Ages of Wonder: Scotland’s Art 1540 to Now
Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 4 November 2017 — 7 January 2018

The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) and the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) have collaborated to organise a major new exhibition, which opens in Edinburgh this autumn. Ages of Wonder: Scotland’s Art 1540 to Now will be the largest exhibition of the RSA’s hugely significant collection ever mounted and the first to occupy the entire RSA building.

The RSA is an independently funded institution founded in 1826, and is led by artists and architects to promote and support the creation, understanding and enjoyment of contemporary art. It was instrumental in the establishment of a Scottish national art collection in 1859, with the opening of the Scottish National Gallery (SNG). In 1910, the RSA transferred significant works to the SNG’s collection in exchange for exhibiting rights within what is now known as the RSA Building, which is part of the SNG complex in the heart of Edinburgh.

Ages of Wonder will, for the first time in over 100 years, reunite these paintings and sculptures with the RSA collection, bringing together a selection of over 450 works by more than 270 artists and architects that will highlight the significant part played by RSA in Scottish cultural over the past two centuries. Around 60 outstanding works from NGS will feature in the exhibition.

The artworks on show will cover a period of nearly five centuries, from 1540 until the present day—from the The Adoration of the Kings by Jacopo Bassano (c.1510–1592) right through to Callum Innes’s Exposed Painting Lamp Black, submitted as the artist’s Diploma Work in 2015 after his election as an Academician, and a number of new commissions. Among the exhibition’s highlights will be a spectacular recreation of a Victorian gallery hang, which in RSA Gallery 3 will see over 90 works hung as they would have in the 19th century, from dado rail to ceiling.

Ages of Wonder will also feature a range of special events, including a series of life drawing classes led by prominent contemporary artists such as John Byrne (b.1940), and live etching classes which will utilise a beautifully preserved 19th-century printing press which belonged to the distinguished etcher E. S. Lumsden (1883–1948).

One room will focus on Sir James Guthrie (1859–1930) and the 1910 transfer, featuring major works from both the RSA and NGS, by Guthrie and other artists such as William Dyce (1806–1864) and Joseph Noel Paton (1821–1901), and a specially commissioned sculpture of Guthrie by Kenny Hunter (b.1962). There will also be a room of outstanding portraits of RSA Presidents and artists, showcasing key works by David Allan (1744–1796), Elizabeth Blackadder (b.1934) and Alberto Morrocco (1917–1998).

John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “The NGS and the RSA have a shared history and together we occupy a central place in the past, present and future of the arts in Scotland. We now work very closely together and we are delighted to have partnered with the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) to help deliver what is set to be a historic show. Visitors to the exhibition can soon enjoy some exceptional works by artists both past and present, with items from the national collection complementing the rich and important holdings of the RSA.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated publication edited by Tom Normand and a catalogue. The publication includes essays around the Academy from Duncan Macmillan HRSA, Joanna Soden HRSA, James Holloway, Helen Smailes, Arthur Watson PRSA, Alexander Moffat RSA, William Brotherston RSA, Iain Gale, Lyon and Turnbull, John Morrison, University of Aberdeen, John Lowrey, University of Edinburgh and Sandy Wood, RSA Collections Curator.

Salon hang with William Etty’s Venus of Urbino.








Call for Papers | Portraiture and Biography

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on November 8, 2017

Left: James Boswell by William Daniell, after George Dance, published 10 April 1802 (28 April 1793), NPG D12117; right: Samuel Johnson by Thomas Trotter, published by George Kearsley, published 1782, NPG D13814.

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From the Paul Mellon Centre:

Portraiture and Biography
London 29–30 November 2018

Proposals due by 1 February 2018

An international conference sponsored jointly by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the National Portrait Gallery.

Biography has always haunted the study of portraiture. Although in recent decades art-historians may have developed a healthy skepticism for the intuitive practice of interpreting portraits with straightforward reference to what is known about the lives of their subjects, the temptation to do so remains strong. Moreover, such is the art-form’s seductive power that even nowadays scholars can still struggle to resist the allure of reading the image of a face as the index of character or mind, and as a corollary, of gauging a portraitist’s mastery in terms of his or her ability to plumb the depths of a sitter’s psyche. These tendencies often appear in their most untrammelled form in analyses of artists’ likenesses of themselves, or of their most intimate acquaintances. Hence the occasion of a major exhibition devoted to Thomas Gainsborough’s portraits of himself and his relations, to be held at the National Portrait Gallery from 22 November 2018 until 23 February 2019, offers a particularly opportune moment to stage a related conference, where critical consideration will be given to the role(s) that the biographical archive might play in portraiture studies going forward.

With the aim of generating a lively and thought-provoking discussion, we would welcome papers that consider portraiture’s fraught relationship with biography without restrictions of time or place, and from the vantage-point of a wide range of disciplines; some of the most interesting recent art-historical work has drawn upon anthropology, microhistory, and material culture studies, for example, though our ambition is to include contributions from across the broadest possible methodological spectrum. Although we would welcome case studies dealing with particular artists or sitters, each proposal should supply clear evidence of a commitment to open up broader questions pertinent to the conference’s overarching theme.

In addition to coinciding with Gainsborough’s Family Album, the conference will take place at a key moment for the National Portrait Gallery, as it develops plans for a major refurbishment of its spaces and the first comprehensive re-presentation of its collection. There could hardly be a better opportunity for colleagues from across the field to think about the role of portraiture in evoking a nation’s history, and to help shape the development and interpretation of the new displays.

Abstracts (of no more than 500 words) for 20-minute papers should be submitted by email to efleming@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk by 5pm on 1st February 2018. We welcome applications from emerging and established scholars. Please also include a short professional biography.

Organizing Committee: David H Solkin, Lucy Peltz, Mark Hallett, and Sarah Victoria Turner



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