Art in Focus: The British Castle—A Symbol in Stone

Friday, April 7, 2017
Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hundreds of medieval castles dot the British landscape—most are now ruins, but some are still inhabited by aristocratic families or serve as government buildings. More than any other building type, the castle, in its rise and fall, encapsulates the history of British society. This exhibition brings together a selection of paintings that explore the castle in art—its historical role, place in the landscape, architectural development, and literary associations. Among the specific castles featured are Windsor, the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world and home to the monarch; Corfe Castle, whose ruins after the Civil War serve as a warning that, in a modern democracy, power must bow to the will of the people; and Dover, whose mass kept watch against invasion from France from before the Norman Conquest through to the Second World War. Selections give insight into castles, both real and imagined, and summarize their symbolic role in British life.

Now in its tenth year, Art in Focus is an annual initiative for the Center’s Student Guide Program, providing curatorial experience and an introduction to all aspects of exhibition practice. Student curators select objects for exhibition, write text panels and object labels, and make decisions about installation under the supervision of Center curators and staff. In researching and presenting this exhibition, the students have been guided by David Frazer Lewis, Postdoctoral Research Associate; Linda Friedlaender, Senior Curator of Education; and Jaime Ursic, Assistant Curator of Education. The student curators are Irene Chung, BR ’17; Zoe Dobuler, TC ’17; Julia Fleming-Dresser, TD ’19; Claire Goldsmith, ES ’18; Caroline Kanner, JE ’18; Daniel Leibovic, TC ’17; Catherine Liu, ES ’18; and Nicholas Stewart, JE ’18.

This exhibition and the accompanying brochure (available in the gallery and online) are generously supported by the Marlene Burston Fund and the Dr. Carolyn M. Kaelin Memorial Fund.

John Hamilton Mortimer, West Gate of Pevensey Castle, Sussex (detail), 1773–1774, oil on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Fund