Curatorial trainee update

Our curatorial trainee shares her experience in Warwickshire

Eleanor Hutchison

Since my last blog post I have begun to write text for the redisplay of Compton Verney’s Northern European collection. This text will be used in a new gallery guide, as wall captions for individual works, and more extensive information will be added to the website. It has been such a pleasure to look in detail at every item in the collection and provide visitors with more information about these fabulous works of art.

I attended the Museums Association conference that was hosted in Belfast in November. This was a great opportunity to discuss issues and ideas with colleagues from around the country and abroad. Discussions included how museums could and should approach challenging subjects and be a place to build relationships with communities. This was a really inspiring event and it will be exciting to see how the sector evolves.

Ambrosius Benson, The Virgin and Child, about 1518-50 © Compton Verney

I have also been carrying out research into a small devotional panel of the Virgin and Child in the collection. I have been reviewing the evidence for its attribution to Ambrosius Benson, an Italian-born artist working in Bruges in the first half of the 16th century.

Compton Verney also has a portrait by this artist in the Northern European collection. These pictures differ dramatically in style and handling, however. Artistic practice at the time was collaborative, with styles and designs shared between workshops.

This research is ongoing and includes discussions with other museums who own works by Benson, as well as other artists working in Bruges in the period, for comparison with Compton Verney’s picture.

Recently I have given talks to members of the public and staff about the results obtained from the infrared reflectography that has been carried out on pictures in the collection. It was great to share these results for the first time and it was wonderful to see how interested and excited people were about them.

I have also started to plan a new layout for the Northern European galleries. This has involved thinking about how the works of art could fit together physically and thematically, as well as considering how different forms of display can alter one’s perception of an object.

For example, when a silver-gilt ewer and basin (German or Netherlandish, about 1580-1600) were temporarily removed from an overly large display case, the objects themselves suddenly appeared much bigger. Similarly, when deciding on a new frame for a panel painting in the collection, the different coloured frame options dramatically affected the overall look of the painting itself. It has been thrilling to consider how new methods of display could show off the Northern European collection in the best possible way.

This article was originally published at artfund.org

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