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  • Spectacular Revolution

    By Martine Rouleau, on 27 May 2016

    Blog post for UCL Art Museum, Revolution under a King exhibition by Dr Susannah Walker, UCL Art History Department.

    LDUCS_A_Versaille

    Anonymous, A Versaille a Versaille, 1789, etching and engraving, UCL Art Museum

    Despite its Enlightenment origins, one of the French Revolution’s legacies is a rich strain of macabre imagery that has entered popular culture: Marie-Antoinette’s hair turning grey at the prospect of the guillotine. The assassinated radical journalist Marat slumped in his bath. The apocryphal tale of the bals des victimes where survivors of the Terror were said to have worn short hair and a red ribbon at the throat in reference to the guillotined head.

    The dark humour of popular prints may be at the origin of this cultural response. One bitterly ironic anonymous image of Revolutionary leader Robespierre imagines “having had all the French people guillotined [he] beheads the executioner with his own hand.”

    (more…)

    Conservation of Public Art in the UCL Wilkins Building

    By Susi Pancaldo, on 11 March 2016

    Have you ever noticed – as you hurry off to class, the library or an event – that UCL’s campus is filled with works of art?

    The Wilkins Building, at the heart of the UCL Bloomsbury campus’ main quad, is particularly rich in sculpture. Outside the building, of course, are the iconic lead athletes on the steps below the dome.

    Lead statues of the Capitoline Antinous and the Discophorus, Wilkings Building

    Lead statues: Capitoline Antinous and Discophorus, Wilkins Building

    These figures have a fascinating history and I will write more about them another time.

    Inside the Wilkins Building, there is an abundance of works on permanent display too. Adjacent to the Jeremy Bentham auto-icon are two large, ancient Egyptian limestone lions in excavated by Sir Wm.M.F. Petrie. There are a number of 19th and early 20th century sculptures on either side of the Octagon Gallery; wall paintings in the Whistler Room (soon to be opened to the public); and upstairs, within the library, a myriad of sculpture in and around the 1st floor Flaxman Gallery. (more…)

    Ah! Ça ira, ça ira, ça ira!

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 1 March 2016

    Anonymous Bon, nous voila d’accord (Good, now we are in tune), 1789 Coloured etching, UCL Art Museum

    Anonymous
    Bon, nous voila d’accord (Good, now we are in tune), 1789
    Coloured etching, UCL Art Museum

    Ah! Ça ira, ça ira, ça ira! (Oh! it will go well today, it will go well, it will go well!)

    On Thursday 25th February, UCL Chamber Music Club performed a special concert of French Revolutionary music for a public audience in UCL Art Museum. The concert was part of the public programme for the exhibition Revolution under a King: French Prints 1789-92. The repertoire comprised pieces by contemporary composers such as François-Joseph Gossec, J. Rouget de Lisle and Th. Desorgues amongst others.

    We wanted to bring the prints in the exhibition to life through music. The responsiveness of music for public spectacle and as a tool to reflect sentiment mirrored the use of print as propaganda during the years of the French Revolution. In the print above, The Three Estates are shown playing the same tune, symbolising their agreement. The member of the clergy (First Estate), playing an instrument known as a serpent (whose implication of duplicity would have been clear to contemporary viewers), faces the oboe-playing aristocrat (Second Estate), while the man in the centre representing the Third Estate, playing his violin, eyes him cautiously. All three types are in keeping with what were, at this point, becoming established ways of representing the Three Estates. Despite the theme of consensus, the clergyman is fat and smug, the noble gaunt and haughty, and the Third Estate watchful and wise; soon, as related prints made clear, they would all dance to his tune.

    (more…)

    The Age of Revolutions

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 29 February 2016

    Josiah Wedgewood (1730 – 1795), Philippe-Égalité, 1790-2 (White jasper ware, dipped in dark blue, applied jasper ware reliefs)

    Josiah Wedgewood (1730 – 1795), Philippe-Égalité, 1790-2 (White jasper ware, dipped in dark blue, applied jasper ware reliefs)

    Blog post for UCL Art Museum, Revolution under a King exhibition by Dr Susannah Walker, UCL Art History Department

    On 10th February I joined Dr Richard Taws, the co-curator of UCL Art Museum’s current exhibition Revolution under a King: French Prints 1789-92, to give a lunchtime lecture on the prints in the so called “Age of Revolutions”.

    (more…)

    The terror, the terror!

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 15 February 2016

    Anonymous, Essai de la Guillotine, 1793, UCL Art Museum

    Anonymous, Essai de la Guillotine, 1793, UCL Art Museum

    On 26 January UCL Art Museum hosted a Pop-Up display dedicated to the theme of the French Revolution. This ties in with our current exhibition, Revolution under a King: French Prints 1798-92. As part of our ongoing wish to support UCL students and alumni, the exhibition was curated by volunteers Viktoria Espelund, Shijia Yu and Rosa Rubner. They each chose French Revolutionary prints from our collection and approached the topic from unique perspectives. The rationale behind their selections can be seen below.

    (more…)

    A King as catapult practice!

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 21 January 2016

    Detail of Noel Lemire (1724 – 1801), After Jean Michel Moreau (1741 – 1814), Louis Seize, 1792, Coloured etching, Inscribed: Bonnet des Jacobins donné au Roi 20 Juin 1792 (The Jacobin bonnet of liberty given to the King 20 June 1792); A Paris Chez L’Auteur Rue des Augustins, UCL Art Museum

    Detail of Noel Lemire (1724 – 1801), After Jean Michel Moreau (1741 – 1814), Louis Seize, 1792, Coloured etching, Inscribed: Bonnet des Jacobins donné au Roi 20 Juin 1792 (The Jacobin bonnet of liberty given to the King 20 June 1792); A Paris Chez L’Auteur Rue des Augustins, UCL Art Museum

    On this day, 21 January 1793, Louis XVI of France, stepped out of a carriage in the Place de la Révolution (formerly Place Louis XV) and climbed the steps to the guillotine.

    (more…)

    New Year, New Resolutions: Museum Conservation Conversations on the UCL PACE Museums and Collections Blog!

    By Susi Pancaldo, on 12 January 2016

    The PACE Conservation Laboratory on UCL’s Bloomsbury Campus serves the needs of UCL’s diverse collections. The objects we have examined and treated in 2015 have ranged from fragile inorganic and organic archaeological materials, small sculpture and other works of art, dry- and fluid-preserved zoological specimens, all manner of scientific teaching models, an array of mechanical and electrical scientific instruments, and much, much more!!

    UC40989 faience shabti, during treatment: Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology Museum; UCLAM10026 bronze medal of Prosper Sainton: UCL Art Museum; Z2978 mammoth tusk: Grant Museum of Zoology; Mathematical model: UCL Maths.

    Faience ‘shabti,’ during treatment: Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology (UC20989); Bronze medal: UCL Art Museum (10026); Mammoth tusk: Grant Museum of Zoology (Z2978); Mathematical model: UCL Maths.

    These objects have come to our Conservation Lab from UCL’s collections for a variety of reasons. Some need to be cleaned or repaired ahead of use in teaching, research, loan or display. Some present mysteries which close examination and scientific analysis may help unravel. Others have been selected for treatment as part of ongoing programmes to improve the condition of collections currently in storage.

    Each object has a story to tell, and with the start of this New Year, we have made a resolution to share the work we do with our blog audiences. (more…)

    Spotlight on the Slade – October 2015 update

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 1 October 2015

    Percy Wyndham Lewis, Stooping Nude Child, 1900, Black Chalk, UCL 6003 (The Estate of Mrs G.A. Wyndham Lewis. By permission of the Wyndham Lewis Memorial Trust (a Registered Charity)

    Percy Wyndham Lewis, Stooping Nude Child, 1900, Black Chalk, UCL 6003 (The Estate of Mrs G.A. Wyndham Lewis. By permission of the Wyndham Lewis Memorial Trust (a Registered Charity)

    Blog post by Helen Downes, Paul Mellon Centre Research Curator, UCL Art Museum

    UCL Art Museum’s Spotlight on the Slade project is well underway with the first phase of the project: Full cataloguing of the collection of some 1,700 drawings.  Dating from the 1890s to the present day, this collection of largely prize-winning drawings offers a unique insight into student work and teaching methods at the Slade.  Current focus is on the late 19th, early 20th Century and is yielding some interesting findings. (more…)

    The greatest living Art Collection (at UCL)

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 1 July 2015

    Dyck, Anthony van (1599-1641), Anthony Van Dyck, 1645, UCL Art Museum Collection

    Dyck, Anthony van (1599-1641), Anthony Van Dyck, 1645, UCL Art Museum Collection

    At Glastonbury Festival this year, singer Kanye West claimed he was the ‘greatest living rock star on the planet’. Here at the UCL Art Museum, we’d like to claim that we are the greatest living art collection on campus, hosting a wonderful treasure trove of work dating from the 1490’s to the present day. We can afford to be as confident as Kanye, with a collection by artists such as Durer, Rembrandt, Van Dyck Turner, Dora Carrington, Stanley Spencer and Paula Rego.

    (more…)

    Re-Launch in conversation – artist Julia McKinlay

    By Jenny M Wedgbury, on 4 June 2015

    Julia McKinlayHere’s our second Re-Launch in conversation interview, this time with artist Julia McKinlay.

    Can you tell us a little about you as an artist and your current practice?

    My work often begins with a research expedition to a museum or particular landscape. At the moment I am in Iceland to see the unique volcanic landscape there and hopefully this research will lead to some new work. I move between sculpture and printmaking. My main interest is in trying to create another world in the gallery through using space and structures to display a collection of objects that I have made to represent different elements of an environment. Here’s a link to my blog for my Boise Travel Scholarship funded time in Iceland.

    (more…)