Art in Focus: William III

Art in Focus is an academic initiative for members of the Yale Center for British Art Student Guide Program, through which students are introduced to every aspect of exhibition practice. Students intensify their engagement with the Center’s collections, strengthen their research skills, and test writing in new formats. Student curators select objects for exhibition, write text panels and object labels, and make decisions about installation. 

The fifth exhibition in this initiative, Art in Focus: William III, examined an eighteenth-century lead sculpture of King William by the Dutch artist John Nost the Elder or the British sculptor John Cheere. Measuring almost six feet tall, William III was temporarily installed on a high base, affording the viewer a perspective similar to its original display. Related works from the Center’s collections, including portraits of William III and contemporaneous sculptures in a variety of media, were exhibited with the sculpture.

Through this group of objects, the exhibition addressed the contested image and historical legacy of William III (1650–1702), his own under-appreciated collecting practices, and the Dutch artists who came to work in England in William’s wake. The history of the sculpture’s production, ownership, and iconography was also investigated. Students examined the way in which technological innovations at this time made an impact upon material culture and allowed British artists and craftspeople to become leaders in their fields.

View works from the collection included in this exhibition here.


The student curators of this exhibition were Max Budovitch (CC ’13), Ilana Harris-Babou (BR ’13), Nell Klugman (PC ’12), David Mogilner (PC ’12), Scott Shinton (TD ’12), and Sophia Yoo (SY ’13). They worked under the guidance of Matthew Hargraves, Associate Curator and Head of Collections Information and Access; Linda Friedlaender, Curator of Education; and Jennifer Kowitt, Postgraduate Research Associate.

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Art in Focus: William III installation, Yale Center for British Art, photo by Richard Caspole