From the Director
Happy New Year, and warmest wishes for the winter season! Following a most extraordinary and transformative year at the Center, we look forward to an equally exhilarating program in the months ahead. Since our reopening last May, attendance has increased by over thirty percent compared to the same time period in 2014, prior to our closure. Over the course of the fall semester, we so enjoyed introducing new undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty to our resources and collections. We were particularly delighted to host a special evening for freshmen during orientation, a gala for the student workers of both Yale art museums (generously supported by the Marlene Burston Fund), and a reception for the Yale College Class of 2017. Nearly one quarter of the senior class attended, some of whom were visiting the Center for the first time since their matriculation at Yale.
And now for the pleasures of the coming semester! Opening in February, Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte, and the Shaping of the Modern World results from a magnificent collaboration between the Center and Historic Royal Palaces. This complex exhibition examining the lives of three royal women across the long eighteenth century addresses their long-overlooked influence on the culture of Britain and its developing empire. The project would not have been possible without the munificence of the Chipstone Foundation, which underwrote a series of workshops that brought together scholars, artists, performers, and designers to help to conceptualize the exhibition and the rich programs that will complement it, ranging from period dance and concerts to staged readings, lectures, and films. We are indebted to over forty institutions and private collections from across Yale and around the globe for their generous loans to the exhibition, and we are especially grateful to her Majesty the Queen for lending over eighty works from the Royal Collection Trust.
We invite you to join us for many other stimulating programs across the term, including the Paul Mellon Lectures presented by Thomas Crow, Rosalie Solow Professor of Modern Art, the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Sponsored by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, this series of five lectures, entitled Searching for the Young Soul Rebels: Style, Music, and Art in London 1956–1969, will be delivered at the National Gallery, London, in January and February, and at Yale in March and April. This semester we also will be happy to welcome a distinguished group of visiting scholars, including, in April, Duncan Robinson, former director of the Center and the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.
This year, we will commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Center with a celebration on April 18. We invite you to join us on this special day. In creating this institution, our founder, Paul Mellon (Yale College, Class of 1929), envisioned a collection with free and open access to all. We hope that he would be pleased to see how his generosity has enabled the Center to evolve into a multifaceted organization with the capacity to reach new audiences and to further the study, appreciation, and enjoyment of British art and culture in the most innovative of ways. Coinciding with this important anniversary, a special summer exhibition will feature works given to or purchased by the Center in recent years, including selections from the last of Mr. Mellon’s gifts to the institution.
The Center recently made several major acquisitions, including a group of paintings on glass that reproduce eight of George Stubbs’s most outstanding portraits of dogs, which are in the institution’s collections. Beautifully painted and visually compelling, these works are perhaps by Stubbs himself; our curators and conservators have launched a research initiative to help us to understand these previously unknown works. We also acquired two works by the Scottish artist Archibald Skirving: an exquisite pastel of a woman at an advanced age (1803), as well as a pencil drawing of a young girl, probably created during the years Skirving spent in Rome (1787–94). A self-portrait of amateur pastelist Lady Mary Lowther adds to our growing collection of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century pastels, as well as works by women artists. This fascinating work was a gift to the Center from Lowell Libson.
It is with great sadness that we learned of the untimely death of Giles Waterfield last November. A scholar of great distinction, Giles was both a gifted writer and museum director. In 2007, he delivered with customary wit and charm the seventh series of the Paul Mellon Lectures at the National Gallery, London, and in New Haven. Giles was also known to many from his leadership of the Attingham study programs, helping numerous curators, academics, and collectors to understand the history and collections of Britain’s palaces and country houses. He will be remembered as a lively teacher, colleague, and friend.
We thank Sally Salvesen, a former art publisher at Yale University Press, London, for her many years of dedicated partnership in producing more than thirty magnificent books in association with the Center. Building upon the institutions’ strong publications program, these volumes have received a constant flow of accolades, awards, and recognition. Working with Sally has been an extreme pleasure, and with the forthcoming catalogue for Enlightened Princesses we will celebrate the culmination of our years of collaboration through the publication of this one, last, great book.
With great pride, but deep regret, we also bid farewell to Gillian Forrester, Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings, who will depart from the Center in March to take up the post of Senior Curator of Historic Fine Art at the Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester, beginning in June. After eighteen years of magnificent contributions to the life of the Center and the Yale community at large, Gillian will be sorely missed. However, we will look forward to working with her on many collaborative projects long into the future.
We also congratulate Lisa Thornell, former Senior Curatorial Assistant, Prints and Drawings, on her new position at Fairfield University as Student Engagement & Outreach Librarian. Additionally, we have said farewell to our colleagues Michael Guidone, Security Officer; Jeffery Hoffmann, Manager of Information Technology; and David Parsell, Systems Manager, Information Technology, and we wish them well in their retirement after many years of dedicated service. We welcome with pleasure Laura Callery, Senior Curatorial Assistant in our Department of Rare Books and Manuscripts, and we are delighted that Kyle Kearson, one of the seven New Haven Promise Scholars interning at the Center last summer, has joined our staff as a Museum Technician.
As always, we thank you for your ongoing commitment to the Center, and we look forward to seeing you often in the coming year!
Director, Yale Center for British Art