at home: Art in Context | John Collins of Devizes

Theresa Fairbanks Harris, Senior Conservator of Works on Paper at the Center, discusses a pastel work in the museum’s collections.
at home: Art in Context

Art in Context, the Center's gallery talk series, is now online. Presented by faculty, staff, visiting scholars, and student guides, these lectures are held on the last Tuesday of each month during the academic year. Each talk focuses on a particular work of art in the Center's collections, or a special exhibition, and takes an in-depth look at its style, subject matter, technique, or time period. The last ten minutes are reserved for conversation and will allow for participants to ask questions.

About the program

Focusing on John Russell’s pastel portrait John Collins of Devizes, Theresa Fairbanks Harris (Yale BA 1977) shares insights into how pastel works of art are made, cared for, and preserved. A prolific portraitist, Russell was appointed Crayon Painter to King George III in 1788. His distinctive technique, elucidated in his popular manual, Elements of Painting with Crayons (1772), resulted in a blurred effect and velvety textures that imbued his work with remarkable vitality and luminosity.

Fairbanks Harris has worked for museums at Yale University since 1982. As an undergraduate at Yale, she worked in the conservation laboratory for the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and has since worked for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian Conservation Analytical Laboratory, and National Museum of American History before returning to New Haven to work for the Yale art museums. She lectures frequently and has taught courses at the Yale School of Art, the Department of the History of Art, Department of Music, and the Rare Book School (at the University of Virginia). Her areas of interest include works on paper, photographs, pastels, portrait miniatures, watercolors, and paper identification.

Top image
John Russell, John Collins of Devizes (detail), 1799, pastel paper mounted on canvas, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection