Events & Feature Stories

Spring Semester Scholars

Anna Liesching, Assistant Curator in the Art Department of the Ulster Museum, joins the Yale Center for British Art this winter to investigate works on paper by artists represented in the Ulster Museum’s collection. This includes Andrew Nicholl, John Sell Cotman, John Robert Cozens, Myles Birket Foster, J. M. W. Turner, Robert Gibbings, Johnathan Fisher, William Russell Flint, Stanley Anderson, and James Allen.

She hopes to learn more about the Center’s processes of storing and digitizing large collections of works on paper. The Ulster Museum is digitizing their collection of works on paper and integrating it with the collection of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

“I am particularly passionate about making museum collections accessible and engaging for the public. The Ulster Museum holds an extensive works on paper collection with over five thousand artifacts; my aim is to contribute to the establishment of this collection as a valuable open resource. I’m excited to have this opportunity to learn from the Center’s processes and also to expand my own knowledge of works on paper through engaging with such a wonderful collection,” said Liesching.

Liesching received a Curatorial Scholar Award, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which provides four-week residential fellowships to curators based in municipal and regional museums in the UK, beyond London, whose curatorial activities encompass British art. The fellowships enable curators to use the resources and collections of the Center, and other Yale resources, to advance research on their own collections or curatorial projects.

In the spring, Laurel Waycott, a second-year PhD student in the History of Science and Medicine, and Jacob Stewart-Halevy, a sixth-year student and PhD candidate in the History of Art, will work with Amy Meyers, Director of the Center, and Florence Grant, Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Director’s Office, on the work of William Bartram (1739–1823). A Philadelphia-based naturalist, Bartram was the first American-born artist to depict the flora and fauna of North America extensively. The exhibition is scheduled to open at the Center in 2018.

Waycott and Stewart-Halevy have chosen to study Bartram because of his distinctive position in eighteenth-century American natural history, both as a keen observer of American species and their environmental relationships, and as a correspondent with the natural history communities of Great Britain and the Continent.

“I am hoping to explore the dynamic among literary description, personal narrative, and imaginative naturalism in Bartram’s early efforts to catalogue North American species. The contradiction between the meticulous and the fanciful in his animal and botanical drawings seem key to the environmentalism of the moment,” said Stewart-Halevy.

Waycott says studying at the Center will add a unique dimension to her research into the intersections of art, science, and nature, and that the exhibition offers a wonderful opportunity to bring the intertwined histories of science and art to a wider public.

Meyers also appreciates the fresh perspectives the students will bring to the project. “I look forward to working with Laura and Jacob, who will inflect our study of Bartram with exciting new approaches to his life and work. Their cross-disciplinary training will enable us to interpret his contributions to the development of colonial and early republican art and science in important ways.” said Meyers.


William Bartram, 1739–1823, British, The Soft Shell'd Tortoise Got in Savanah River Georgia, ca. 1773, Gray and black wash over graphite on medium, cream, slightly textured laid paper, Yale Center for British Art, Gift of Charles Ryskamp