New Activity Packs Get People Drawing

Artful Line Activity Packs

As galleries across the UK look at how to operate within new social distancing guidelines, The Harris has taken a new approach to encouraging visitors to make their own drawings inspired by The Artful Line exhibition. In this guest blog, Holly Nesbitt tells us more about how and why they had to change their plans. 

The Artful Line is an exhibition that explores drawing in all its forms. We have a wide range of drawings on display, including four loans from The Courtauld Gallery and rarely seen works from our own collection.

We were very keen on involving visitors with drawing in the gallery. So we had a table with lots of drawing materials (including sketchbooks, paper, different drawing pencils and coloured pencils) and some drawing activities to do in the space, as well as ones to take home. Visitors could also send their drawings to us via email, social media or they could hand them to a member of staff and they would be put on a tv gallery in the space. This was really popular with visitors, especially families during the half-term holidays.

Just before the building closed due to Covid-19, all of the materials were removed from the space. When we reopened in July, the current guidance meant that we couldn’t have the materials back in the space. In spite of this, we still wanted to involve visitors with drawing.

To do this we created art packs that people could take home from the gallery. They include some different coloured sugar paper, different shade pencils, a rubber and an activity created by Gavin Renshaw and The Courtauld Gallery Learning Team. This was completed during lockdown and was released as a part of the online exhibition for the Artful Line. Gavin Renshaw was one of the artists commissioned to create a drawing for the exhibition, he created four drawings entitled Caliban, which he refers to in the activity.

Also in the packs is a sheet telling people where to find other resources. During the Artful Line online exhibition, we commissioned other artists to create drawing activities and resources for people to do at home. One of these was done by Kathryn Poole, another of the artists commissioned to create a drawing for the exhibition, and another resource was created by Oxheys, an independent artist collective, who created the activities that were in the gallery before Covid-19. For the online exhibition they created video versions of the activities. All of this can be find on our Artful Line exhibition page, which the sheet details. Visitors still have a chance to have their drawings featured on the tv gallery if they send their drawing to us.

Find out more:

An online tour of the exhibition, learning activities and details about how to visit The Harris in person can be found on The Artful Line webpage.

 

Artful Line Exhibition Reopens!

Four drawings by Gavin Renshaw in the Artful Line exhibition

We’re pleased to announce that the Artful Line exhibition at the Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library has now reopened, and the loans from the Courtauld Collection have been extended until mid-October. We hope this will give people an additional opportunity to see this fantastic exhibition that was only open for a short time before it closed in March.

Featuring works from the 17th century to the present day, the exhibition includes drawings from The Courtauld’s collection by artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Frank Auerbach, William Henry Hunt and Helen Saunders. Drawings by William Blake, Angelica Kauffman and Deanna Petherbridge are also on display.

To celebrate the history of the Courtaulds Ltd factory, Preston artists Gavin Renshaw, Kathryn Poole and Anita George created new works for the exhibition, inspired by the history of the site, now Red Scar Business Park, and the people who worked there.

To complement the exhibition, there is a virtual tour and a wide variety of resources by artists, educators and curators available online: https://www.theharris.org.uk/product/the-artful-line-2/

To ensure social distancing guidelines and local restrictions are met, The Harris requests visitors book one of two time slots to visit the museums and galleries: 11:00 – 13:00 and 13:30 – 15:30, and only visit with members of their household or social bubble. Tickets and further information are available through their website: https://www.theharris.org.uk/product/book-your-tickets/

New Resources for Schools

Prints made by schools

In a guest blog, Alice Hellard from the Courtauld Gallery gives us a behind the scenes look at the production of our new resources for schools and young people.

When the exhibitions at the Harris Art Gallery, Museum and Library and Braintree Museum moved online in May a great opportunity opened up to create some focused learning resources that captured some of the learning work we had planned to deliver in schools.

In March, artist educator Nadine Mahoney and I delivered a number of sessions at Braintree Museum for both primary and secondary schools. Focusing on Paul Gauguin’s four woodcut prints on display at the Museum, the sessions aimed to develop students’ understanding of Gauguin’s printmaking techniques and ideas around myth making. In the learning resources we again wanted to encourage close looking, interpretation and technique, this time focusing on two of the prints, Te Po and Manao Tupapau (1893-94).

In Preston, I was due to run school workshops in April and May with artist and Illustrator Gavin Renshaw. In January 2020 Gavin was commissioned by the Harris (alongside artists Anita George and Kathryn Poole) to create a work in response to aspects of Courtaulds Ltd heritage. Researching the brief, Gavin discovered the story of Caliban, a Courtaulds Ltd steam engine, and made a series of drawings that capture aspects of its renovation. For the online exhibition at the Harris it seemed natural to develop a practical drawing resource for secondary students that explores drawing as an approach to capturing narrative, and to talk to Gavin in more detail about his approach to drawing and heritage.

I was also delighted to have been able to reprint (with kind permission from Courtauld alumna Alma Zevi) a fascinating interview with Frank Auerbach as part of the Harris’ online programme. Auerbach’s drawing Study for an Oxford Street building site (1958-59) is in The Artful Line exhibition, and the interview gives some fascinating insights into the role of drawing to his process.

Find out more:

All of the resources are available to download from our Schools and Colleges Page

Take a look at the virtual exhibition tours and other activities on our partner museum websites
The Artful Line
Courtaulds: Origins, Innovation and Family

Open Courtauld Hour Returns!

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet

We are thrilled that our friends at the Research Forum have announced their online series Open Courtauld Hour is back for a series two! Here are the details and links for booking: 

This online mini-series will provide one-hour packages of pop-up talks, performances and in detail object study sessions that explore and celebrate our collection, research in art history, curation and conservation. Magnifying contemporary thinking in society through the field of art history, these episodes will platform new perspectives, new ways into art practice, looking at art and reading its history via themes that impact us all.

Week 1: From subject matter to statement, it is no secret that food and feasting have played a fundamental role in art for millennia. Eating and food preparation have taken on a new significance during this global pandemic — in the UK we have seen an overwhelming and renewed appreciation of our key food production and supermarket workers, food trends such as banana bread and dalgona coffee have taken over our social media feeds and spaces of feasting, communal eating and experiencing food and art together have been closed or disallowed in lockdown. In this session join, cook and eat with Tasha Marks (Founder of AVM Curiosities, Food Historian, Artist, Confectioner, Perfumer and Lecturer at The Arts Society), Sussan Babaie (Lecturer on the arts of Iran and Islam at The Courtauld Institute of Art), Lisette Auton (Disabled writer, activist, spoken word artist, theatre maker & creative practitioner) and Fozia Ismail (Founder & Researcher at Arawelo Eats) to dissect food and art through the ages! https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/open-courtauld-hour-the-art-of-feasting-tickets-107708334528

Week 2: With pubs being the first places to be closed, and most likely last to be opened, in the UK’s approach to tackling Covid-19, this episode begins and ends by delving into the life of London’s favourite artwork and the Courtauld’s most iconic painting, Édouard Manet’s ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergère’. Often considered a pivotal work in the depiction of modern life, this work has taken on new signification in this age of social distancing and isolation. In this session we will consider the relationship between art and social scenes — the role of the pub in arts subject matter, it’s genesis and as a site of art historical dissemination and learning. With the help of our curator Karen Serres (Curator of Paintings at the Courtauld Gallery), specialists in the field such as Matt Lodder (Senior Lecturer in Art History & Director of US Studies at University of Exeter specialising in art history in the pub and the history of tattoos as art) and Florence Ostende (Curator at the Barbican and of the show-stopping exhibition ‘Into the Night: Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art’) and drag artist Asifa Lahore (Presenter and Britain’s first out Muslim drag queen) we will reinstate the pub as a both a site of social interaction and creative practice, historically and now in 2020. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/open-courtauld-hour-past-orders-art-and-social-scenes-tickets-107708635428

Week 3: In this final session of the series we hand the microphone over to four familiar faces — poets, writers and performers who have previously contributed to live Open Courtauld events. Dean Atta (Author of The Black Flamingo and winner of the Stonewall Book Award), Cat Hepburn (Performance poet, Scriptwriter, Educator and Co-host of Sonnet Youth), Nadine Jassat (Author of Let Me Tell You This) and Andres Ordorica (Scotland-based Queer Latinx Writer) will each react to an artwork of their choice from The Courtauld Collection. Poetry about art has been a core element of our Open Courtauld programme — allowing new perspectives, histories and windows into artworks and art history. Join our poets in rethinking, reframing and reengaging with iconic pieces of art in our collection in this poetry special of Open Courtauld Hour! https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/open-courtauld-hour-new-takes-on-the-courtauld-collection-poetry-special-tickets-107709514056

National Highlights – The Harris

In the latest blog celebrating collections around the UK, Adam, Visitor Services Assistant at The Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library, discusses three fantastic works on show in a current exhibition.

Architectural Fantasy
Image: Architectural Fantasy (c. 1740), School of Giuseppe Galli Bibiena. Courtesy of the Harris Museum, Art Gallery and Library.

The Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston, has a long connection to the Courtauld Gallery, as Courtaulds Ltd. formerly had a large factory in the city. The Artful Line exhibition at The Harris is the latest fruit of this partnership, and explores the process of drawing from a variety of angles.

My choices are all from this exhibition. I have not had the opportunity to visit the Courtauld Gallery in London and view the artworks there in person, and I believe it is impossible to fully appreciate a piece of art unless you have stood in front of it. I also had to include three pieces as favourites, as they are presented as a trio in the exhibition, and their thematic links would be lost if one was sidelined.

The earliest drawing of the three is Architectural Fantasy, from the school of Giuseppe Galli Bibiena, drawn in about 1740. The piece is an imaginary interior – possibly of a palace or a public building – whose architecture is extravagant to the point of absurdity. Clusters of Corinthian columns shoot upward to bulbous balustrades and Baroque cartouches, while two staircases lead to destinations unknown, but surely magnificent – a tree can be glimpsed behind one, suggesting an idyllic landscape. Yet a close inspection reveals all sorts of imperfections, from wonky urns to inconsistently-spaced flagstones. The contrast between the far view and close inspection enhances the sense that this was intended to be a whimsical drawing, more concerned with fancy than absolute precision. It is a pleasing contrast to the Harris building, which is a polished work of Victorian
neoclassicism.

On the right of the group is Helen Saunders’ Vorticist Composition. A portrait by Saunders has already made an appearance in this series, but this piece was created at the height of the Vorticist movement. It is a small drawing, yet the confidence and boldness of its lines immediately draws the eye. The drawing has a strong sense of movement despite not being identifiable as any particular object; the influence of the Cubists is apparent, but the angularity and completely abstract nature of the piece sets it apart. A close examination
reveals that the hatching, while roughly done, is grouped into distinct blocks, giving a sense of order amid the overall disorder. I knew nothing about the Vorticists before the exhibition opened, and its inclusion has encouraged me to explore more of the works of this dynamic but brief movement.

Preliminary Sketch for ‘A Broken Set of Rules’ is the final drawing. It was created by Deanna Petherbridge as part of her 1984 commission to design the sets for the Royal Ballet production of the same name. Its large size and stark lines give it a commanding presence, but one which harmonises with the drawings that flank it. Petherbridge’s style combines the assertiveness and abstraction of the Vorticists with the keen eye for detail of the Architectural Fantasy, and the result is a disordered jumble of columns, architraves, and pediments, all jostling for position and teetering on the edge of collapse. I’m a particular fan of the semi-transparent column in the centre of the drawing, which passes through another in a way M. C. Escher would have been proud of.

When taken together, the three paintings form an interesting response to the values of classical architecture. Architectural Fantasy undermines the seriousness of classicism, related as it is to the theatrical illusion and impermanence. Broken Set of Rules takes this further, distorting the familiar elements of classical architecture and encouraging the viewer question the values such architecture often projects – power, confidence, and tradition. Finally, Vorticist Composition rejects tradition entirely, and presents a fresh way of viewing space. As The Harris itself is a classical building these responses are particularly pertinent – many recent developments in the building have focused on making its austere Victorian spaces more approachable for modern visitors, while at the same time its self-assured exterior has become an iconic feature of the Preston skyline.

Before working at The Harris I had not given much thought to the process of curating when visiting galleries, and this exhibition has given me a small insight into the work that goes into creating meaningful relationships between artworks. At first glance these drawings did not seem to have anything in common with each other, and it is only after contemplating them that I began to understand why they had been hung as they had. All
in all, I’d go so far as to say The Artful Line is the first exhibition I’ve understood, rather than simply looked at.

Find out more: 

All of the works in The Artful Line exhibition are available to view in an online tour, Deanna Petherbridge talks about her work in a blog for the exhibition, and Ketty Gottardo, Martin Halusa Curator of Drawings, talks about Helen Saunders in a film for the exhibition and Open Courtauld Hour’s event about women artists.

5 interesting things about…..Paul Gauguin

Noa Noa display at Braintree Museum

Samuel Courtauld was a big fan of the work of the artist Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), in fact the Courtauld Gallery is one of the best places in the UK to see a range of work by the artist, so to celebrate the connections between Courtauld and his home in Essex, a selection of prints from Gauguin’s Noa Noa series are included in Braintree Museum’s Courtaulds: Origins, Innovation and Family exhibition. This week we take a closer look at some interesting facts about the artist and these unusual prints.

1. Gauguin was mostly self-taught and didn’t become a full-time artist until the age of 35 – before then, he worked as a stockbroker.

2. Gauguin moved around several times trying to find a more authentic and timeless place away from modern civilization. He worked at Pont-Aven, an artists’ colony in Brittany, and with Van Gogh in Arles in the south of France, as well as further afield in Martinique, Tahiti and the Marquesas Islands.

3. The Noa Noa prints, four of which are currently on loan to the Braintree Museum, represent Gauguin’s first foray into woodblock printmaking, and only his second attempt at any kind of printmaking.

4. The prints were created as illustrations for Gauguin’s memoir of his time in Tahiti, but rather than depicting daily life or actual Tahitian stories they were products of the artist’s imagination.

5. The prints on loan to the Braintree Museum weren’t printed by Gauguin himself, but by his son Pola (also an artist) more than fifteen years after Gauguin’s death. The blocks’ surfaces are so complex that it took Pola two years to figure out how to print from them!

Find out more:
The Courtaulds: Origins, Innovation and Family exhibition, including the four prints from the Noa Noa series and a selection of resources about them, is available on the Braintree Museum website.

The Courtauld Gallery has a lot of information about Gauguin online, including an in focus feature on one of his most famous paintings and a short film with Curator Karen Serres about his work. You can also watch a recent talk by Dr Rachel Sloan that explores these works as illustrations on YouTube.

National Highlights – Ulster Museum

As part of our ongoing series to celebrate the collections of our partners and the Courtauld Gallery, this week Anna Liesching, Curator of Art at Ulster Museum, chooses works by two outstanding female artists working in male-dominated movements in the early 20th century.

Helen Saunders: Portrait
Image: Helen Saunders (1885-1963), Portrait  ©The Estate of Helen Saunders/The Samuel Courtauld Trust

As part of the Courtauld Connects project I was lucky to visit the Courtauld works on paper store to spend the morning with Dr Ketty Gottardo, Martin Halusa Curator of Drawings. The main purpose of my visit was to select work for our upcoming loan, but like any curator visiting another collection’s store, I could not miss the opportunity to see the range of work held and hear from Ketty about the collection and her work.

My main take away from the day was the sheer range within the Courtauld collection. Like many, I associate the collection with the Impressionists, so it was wonderful to see the breadth demonstrated through works by Rembrandt, Michelangelo and Dürer. I have returned to my photographs of the visit many times. The significance of that day has also grown, it was three weeks before lockdown (what feels like a lifetime ago) and was actually the last time I was in any kind of collection store!

I keep returning to this work by Helen Saunders, and my delight to know that Courtauld still actively collected. This was something of which I was not aware, that I see now should not have been surprising. So when asked to take part in this blog series I wanted to select a piece to highlight this contemporary collecting.

I was vaguely aware of Saunders existence, mainly that she was a member of the Vorticists and that was only through my particular research interest in the work of women artists.

Helen Saunders was born in 1885 in London. She studied at the Slade, something recognisable in her figurative work. I always think you can spot a Slade student from that time because so much attention was put on study in the life room. She then went on to the Central School of Art and Crafts. She exhibited widely in her early career and was one of only two women who signed the Vorticist manifesto, Blast 1, in 1914, along with Jessica Dismor.

I have always been drawn to the Vorticists, and the fact that they were such a brief movement. Only really flourishing between 1912 and 1915, it still had an impact on the artists involved and many since. I’m particularly captured by art movements that have reacted to wider moments of change in society, and that set out to agitate and rail against the structure of the art system. Vortisicm reflected the energy of the modernist era, working in abstraction, often taking inspiration from machinery. It could also be considered that Vortisicm foreshadowed the impending violence of the First World War in the violence of some of some of the work produced.

However this work is not from that time. It is, in fact, a portrait of Blanche Caudwell. Though it is a figurative work, it still reflects her use of shape from her Vorticist days. Following her involvement in the movement, Saunders’ style moved towards the figure and landscapes. Saunders met Blanche Caudwell in 1933 and they shared a flat from the mid-1930s until Caudwell’s death in 1950. Caudwell frequently sat for Saunders during this time.

Martin: Dispersal on Black
Dispersal: On Black (1967) Mary Martin (1907 – 1969) ©The Estate of Mary Martin/National Museums NI, Ulster Museum Collection

As I primarily look after works of art on paper, and fine art by local artists, I wanted to choose something from the Ulster Museum collection that I do not often get the opportunity to write about. I have selected this piece by Mary Martin, another woman who was a member of a male dominated group that innovated artistic practice- the British Constructivists.

Born Mary Balmford in 1907, she studied at Goldsmiths’ College and then at the Royal College of Art. She exhibited with the Artists International Association, whose membership was 40% women, from 1934, mainly as a still-life and landscape painter. It is interesting to note that because the gallery and academy system was so closed, many women artists exhibited as part of groups as this was often they only way they could get their work seen. You will often find that exhibition groups had large proportions of women members.

Mary Martin was one of the most influential Constructivist artists of her generation. The British Constructivist Group often created work that centred on the ‘act of assembling’ and saw an importance in the form and aesthetic of mathematical principals and geometric composition. Similar to the Vorticists, the British Constructivists were concerned with new principles of design and environment, but possibly in a more conceptual and reimagined way and less reactive to their current environment. Also similar in how the Vorticists were reacting to European Cubism and Futurism, the British Constructivists were creating their own vision and revival of a movement that derived elsewhere (though 30 years before) Russian Constructivism.

Martin often used natural elements as inspiration and developed from that, specifically the idea of natural elements moving away from a central force – dispersal. For example, Dispersal on Black uses half cubes arranged to combine reflections and open planes. The mirrored shapes are not clustered together in the centre, but disperse towards the edges. She often described this as a ‘super-pattern’. She used drawings to create ‘workings out’ in order to decide on the final construction for a relief piece, these drawings were often displayed alongside the works.

Mary Martin is often associated with her husband Kenneth Martin, also a member of the British Constructivists. They often worked together collaboratively, most notably on the Environment section of the ‘This is Tomorrow’ exhibition the Whitechapel gallery in 1956.

I am also drawn to this piece knowing of Martin’s link to Belfast. The screen she was commissioned to design for Musgrave Park Hospital in 1957 placed her vision of a new era within my own built environment.

Find out more:

An example of Saunder’s Vorticist work from the Courtauld Collection is currently on show in the Artful Line virtual tour, curated by the Harris Museum, Art Gallery & Library.

The collections of Ulster Museum, including other works by Mary Martin, can be explored through their website.

 

 

National Highlights – Wolverhampton Art Gallery

In the latest instalment of our National Highlights blog, featuring works selected by staff and volunteers at our partner organisations, Roma Piotrowska, Curatorial Officer at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, chooses two very different works that both have a personal connection.

Keith Piper, Body Type 1 and 2, 1982
Image: Keith Piper, Body Type 1 and 2, 1982, pencil on paper. Courtesy the artist. Installation photograph by Elona Photography.

It is very difficult for an art professional to have a favourite work of art. There are pieces that I am proud we have in the collection because they are by artists whose practice I follow and admire, for example works by Richard Billingham, Siobhan Hapaska, Lubaina Himid, Keith Piper, Larissa Sansour, Yinka Shonibare and Gillian Wearing.

Sometimes items that may seem to be less interesting, become fascinating in the right context. We have for example a collection of memorabilia connected to Royal Weddings, which normally wouldn’t be of my interest. We wanted to represent different stages of family life in relation to our Wolverhampton and Me exhibition, so we chose objects connected to Royal Weddings, such as stickers, commemorative beer bottles and ‘Charles & Diana’ brick. It was fascinating to learn more about those quirky objects and display them in a completely new context of an exhibition about family ties.

I’ve joined the team quite recently and still don’t know many of the objects in our collection, which I am hoping to learn about in the near future! These two works by Keith Piper are close to my heart as they were exhibited in the first show I curated at the Gallery. The black male and female figures are presented naked and with only part of their heads visible, suggesting an incomplete identity. The text around each of the figures describes notions of fear and desire. The portraits explore power relationships and the objectification of the black body – themes that were to recur in Piper’s work over the following decades.

A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet
Image: Edouard Manet, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, 1882. © The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London

It was also very difficult to pick just one work from The Courtauld Gallery’s collection since you have so many amazing pieces. I love your Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collection, for which you are of course the best known. It gives me this wonderful feeling of nostalgia, taking me back to my teenage years when I started being fascinated by art. Paintings by Edouard Manet, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gaugin and Vincent van Gogh were my starting points for further exploration of art history, which subsequently led me to study it at a University. I was not only captivated by paintings themselves but also by bohemian lives lived by the artists, often reflected in their art.

For this blog, I’ve decided to choose A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet as my favourite work of art in your collection. It is one of your highlights, but I also have a personal connection to it, as I remember studying it carefully as a teenager. Manet’s representation of a bustling café bar influenced my teenage imagination and transferred me to 19th century Paris. It was the time when people’s lives shifted from home life to a more social environment of cafes, restaurants, art galleries, theatres and cabarets. It was the start of cultural life as we know it today. The cultural life I miss in the current unusual Covid-19 circumstances.

Find out more: 

The Courtauld Gallery website has a page dedicated to A Bar at the Folies-Bergère, including talks, films and the latest research.

The Wolverhampton Arts and Culture website has more information about Keith Piper’s Body Type 1 & 2, including the recent exhibition, as well as opportunities to explore their collections virtually.

5 interesting things about…Samuel Courtauld

The Courtaulds crest in a display cabinet

Samuel Courtauld was a man of many talents, as chairman of Courtaulds Ltd he was an important industrialist and government advisor, and as a philanthropist and art collector he helped to establish the Courtauld Institute as well as contributing to the collections at the National Gallery. His devotion to sharing art was also a significant inspiration in developing the Courtauld National Partners Programme. To celebrate his birthday on 7th May, Karen Serres, Curator of Paintings at the Courtauld Gallery, shares some insights into the character of this fascinating and influential man.

1. Despite his wealth, he considered himself a bit of a maverick and an outsider.
Although Samuel Courtauld was, thanks to his family business, part of the wealthy middle class, he was proud of his independent spirit. This applied to his taste in art of course: his niece recalled how shocked his friends were when he started buying Impressionist paintings and hanging them in his elegant 18th-century townhouse. However, it is also evident in the way that he viewed his role in the Courtaulds company. Unusually amongst industrialists at the time, he wanted workers to have large shares in the company so they could reap the profits of their labour. He also promoted education, childcare, sick leave and pension benefits among his employees, and lobbied the government to extend them to other businesses.

2. He never went to university.
Born in prosperous family, Samuel went to a prestigious boarding school. He did not go on to university, unlike his siblings (including his sisters, a rare occurrence at the time). Instead, he became an apprentice in textile factories in Germany and France, which enabled him to learn the family business. He then joined one of the Courtaulds textile mills in Essex and rose through the ranks. He became chairman of the company in 1921.

3. His wife, Elizabeth, bought their first works of modern art.
In 1901, Samuel married Elizabeth Kelsey, who shared his passion for art. A patron of music and progressive benefactor of social causes in her own right, Elizabeth is the one who initiated their purchases of French modern art. In 1922, she bought two recently painted works, Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Woman Tying her Shoe and Saint-Paul, Côte d’Azur by a young artist in the Cubist vein, Jean Marchand. Her taste seems to have been more avant-garde than Samuel’s. For example, she loved Picasso, which he didn’t.

4. He exhausted his friends going to exhibitions.
Samuel and his wife Elizabeth were avid travellers: they went to Aix-en-Provence to trace Paul Cézanne’s footsteps, met dealers, artists and collectors all over Europe and America, and visited many exhibitions. One of their friends commented on Samuel’s endless energy for looking at art: ‘pictures excite Sam so much that he spends sleepless nights, he visited … Degas, Braque and Constantin Guys’ exhibitions [in one day]’.

5. He wrote poetry about works of art.
Poetry had always been an important part of Courtauld’s life but it was only after he retired that he was able to fulfil his long-standing desire to publish his own poetry. Entitled Pictures into Verse, the book of poems showcased Courtauld’s responses to old master and Impressionist paintings that he loved. Two paintings in his own collection were included, Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s La Loge (The Theatre Box) and Spring, Chatou. Courtauld was proud of the volume and sent it to friends and correspondents in the art world. He died a few weeks after its publication. One of his friends said that Courtauld had been ‘a businessman with the soul of a poet’.

5 interesting things about…..The Courtauld Gallery

Exterior of Courtauld Gallery

The Courtauld Gallery is currently undergoing major refurbishment and is due to reopen in 2021. With this exciting future in mind, we decided to share some of the fascinating history of the gallery building and its home at Somerset House.

1. It sits above a medieval cesspit
Archaeological investigations undertaken as part of the current redevelopment of the galleries revealed that underneath our floors lies a 15ft chalk-lined cesspit. It is believed to have been part of the 15th century residence called Chester Inn. You can find out more and explore a 3D model here: https://courtauld.ac.uk/fascinating-archaeological-finds-discovered-beneath-the-courtauld

2. It has been a home to royalty
There has been a Somerset House on the site since 1547, this older version of the building was built by the Duke of Somerset and was even home to Elizabeth I when she was still a princess from 1553 to 1558. The current building was begun in 1775 and took 26 years to complete.

3. It has held exhibitions for 200 years
The first institution to move into the new Somerset House in 1779 was the Royal Academy of Arts, they were quickly followed by the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Antiquaries. Until they moved to new premises in 1837, the RA held their annual exhibition in the Great Room, including works by the most famous artists of the day and presided over by Joshua Reynolds.

4. Somerset House brought the Courtauld together
In 1989 the Courtauld Gallery and Courtauld Institute moved into the North Wing of Somerset House. Prior to this expansion had left them been spread across several building at Portman Square with some of the collection on display at the Warburg, things were so cramped a temporary hut was built in a garden for students. This was a huge move for the Courtauld, opening up the collection to a much wider public and bringing together the teaching, research, collection and gallery into one space.

5. Courtauld Connects will transform the gallery spaces
The current refurbishment project, Courtauld Connects, will bring a new chapter to the long history of this important site. Honouring the past, the great room that once housed the RA exhibitions will be reopened into one large display space, but looking to the future the project will also increase accessibility, create a new learning centre, and provide state of the art studios for conservation. Find out more on the project website: Courtauld Connects