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History of Art collaborates with one of the world's finest art museums

25 February 2011

History of Art collaborates with London's Courtauld Gallery -- one of the world's finest art museums

History of Art is collaborating with The Courtauld Institute of Art, the UK's leading research institute for art history, for an exhibition of Victorian drawings –- many of which will be shown in public for the first time. The exhibition is on display in London at The Courtauld Gallery, one of the world's finest small art museums, until 15 May.

The exhibition, entitled Life, Legend, Landscape: Victorian Drawings and Watercolours, includes works ranging from exquisite highly finished watercolours to informal sketches and preparatory drawings for paintings and sculpture. The exhibition draws on research undertaken by History of Art staff and doctoral students who have contributed essays to the exhibition catalogue.

Liz Prettejohn, Professor of History of Art at the University and an expert on Victorian art, wrote the catalogue’s lead essay and supervised the work of the three Bristol doctoral students, each of whom wrote an essay that focused on individual drawings in the exhibition.

Cora Gilroy-Ware, who is in the first year of the AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award, supervised jointly by Tate Britain and Bristol History of Art, wrote an essay about William Etty's drawing Female nude with a cast of the Venus de’ Medici. Laurence Shafe, who is working on a PhD on Charles Darwin and the nineteenth-century British art world, wrote an essay on two landscape watercolours by J.M.W. Turner and John Ruskin, and Sally-Anne Huxtable, who has just passed her PhD examination and will be graduating on 22 February, wrote an essay on two watercolours by the innovative painter Fredrick Walker.

In addition, the catalogue also has short essays by two Courtauld Institute PhD students, a concluding essay by Professor Caroline Arscott of The Courtauld Institute of Art, and catalogue entries on each of the drawings by Courtauld Gallery curator Dr Joanna Selborne. A larger group of postgraduate students from Bristol and The Courtauld participated in a collaborative study day, held in October 2010, to plan the exhibition and its catalogue.

The exhibition, comprising landscapes, intimate portraits, and scenes from literature and everyday life, reveals the Victorian preoccupation with nature, myth and legend, as well as the living model. Major artists of the Victorian era are featured, from J.M.W. Turner and Edwin Landseer to Whistler and Aubrey Beardsley. Among the highlights are striking works by the Pre-Raphaelites Rossetti, Millais and Burne-Jones.

Professor Prettejohn said: “The catalogue made a superb opportunity for doctoral students from Bristol to meet their counterparts at The Courtauld Institute of Art, and to work with them on this exciting exhibition. The students have contributed new perspectives, based on their doctoral research, to the understanding of a fascinating range of Victorian drawings held at The Courtauld Gallery.”

The Courtauld Gallery houses an impressive art collection, including famous Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces, and organizes an acclaimed programme of temporary exhibitions.

Life, Legend, Landscape: Victorian Drawings and Watercolours runs from 17 February to 15 May 2011 at The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN. The catalogue is published by The Courtauld Gallery in association with Paul Holberton Publishing, London.

Please contact Professor Liz Prettejohn for further information.

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