Drawing in Red
26 October 2016 - 30 January 2017
Drawing with red chalk was a technique emerging in the early 16th century. With over thirty drawings -- from Michelangelo to Bernini -- the exhibition explored the sensuousness of drawing in red.
Watercolours by William Thomas
19 October - 7 November 2016
An Oxford history tutor depicted Oxford.
Changing Roles - Changing Characters: From Lady to Saint and Back
23 April - 10 October 2016
Many portraits, especially female portraits, were changed from representing an individual to a generic figure, usually a saint. This exhibition explored three of these altered works from the Picture Gallery's own collection.
The Beautiful Everyday: Old Master Drawings Transforming the Mundane into Art
15 July - 17 October 2016
Depicting the ordinary, the 'everyday' in art is a modern concept. Art's role, one could argue, is to show the extra-ordinary, the otherworldliness. It is there to elevate rather than just observe, but, especially since the 16th century, artists started to depict the world around them. We should not believe that this is pure, unaltered reality. It is artistic interpretation making the day-to-day image-worthy.
Filippino Lippi and drawing in Florence around 1500
3 March - 10 July 2016
Filippino Lippi's painting The Wounded Centaur is one of the highlights in Christ Church Picture Gallery. The back of that painting shows an unfinished drawing of the Triumph of Love (?) and was displayed to the public for the first time. It was at the centre of this show.
Sublimate: An exhibition of works by Christ Church's Ruskin students
28 April - 13 June 2016
The Picture Gallery opened an exhibition of new works by Christ Church's fine arts students. The works were installed throughout the gallery.
250 Reasons for 250 Years
12 June - 31 March 2016
2015 marked 250 years since General John Guise bequeathed his collection of over 200 paintings and almost 2000 drawings to Christ Church. In addition to our exhibition Undisputed Masterpieces (3 June - 5 October 2015), we celebrated the anniversary in an exciting collaborative format: an installation of 250 cards displayed in the Picture Gallery. Many joined in this project and had their thoughts displayed in the Picture Gallery.
Blank cards were sent to members of the Christ Church community -- to artists, scholars, students, and others -- with the request that they write down their thoughts about why art matters, why we should celebrate art benefactors like Guise, and why those who preserve, research, present, and create art still matter today. We installed these cards in the Picture Gallery, one for each year since the Guise bequest.
Printing Ideas and Ideas for Printing: Select examples of Venetian printing culture
23 October 2015 - 29 February 2016
While the Ashmolean museum showed its breathtaking exhibition of Venetian drawings this autumn, the Picture Gallery looked at another aspect of Venice's creative output - printing - the medium for spreading ideas and thought.
A View of Venice
23 October 2015 - 22 February 2016
An exploration of a rare and unknown panorama of Venice from the late 16th century. This painting had not been on display in the Picture Gallery for the last twenty years, but after a fresh restoration the public was able to explore this rare panorama up close.
Undisputed Masterpieces: General John Guise's Swans - Leonardo, Michelangelo, Titian
3 June - 11 October 2015
In 1765 General John Guise, a soldier and art collector, died. His wife and son had pre-deceased him and so he decided to leave his art collection to his former Oxford college, Christ Church. This extraordinary bequest celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2015. While the whole Picture Gallery is testimony to his benefaction, this exhibition drew renewed attention to his collection of drawings. They included some of the most important Old Master drawings in this country, with sheets by Leonardo, Michelangelo, Bellini, Titian and many more.
Raphael's Legacy: Italian Design in the 16th Century
12 February - 1 June 2015
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, better known as Raphael was one of the most celebrated and influential artists. Despite his early death in 1520, at the age of only 37, his pupils and followers continued to develop their master’s tradition – the two best known are probably Giulio Romano and Marcantonio Raimondi. Their designs for prints, silver and gold vessels, paintings and tapestries dominated the artistic language of the time. This exhibition gave a glimpse into that splendour.
Up Close and Personal - A Portrait of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey
19 March - 31 May 2015
One of the most powerful men in England during the reign of Henry VIII, and yet there are hardly any contemporary portraits of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey (1473-1530). The most frequently used likeness was painted posthumously and is housed in Christ Church Hall. For the first time, it was taken down from the heights in which it usually hangs, and visitors got close to it and looked Thomas Wolsey in the eye. Wolsey's original cardinal's hat was also on display.
Mounts, Mats & Marks: How collectors took ownership of their drawings
12 September 2014 - 2 February 2015
This small display answered some often-asked questions by our visitors about inscriptions, numbers, stamps and borders on drawings. This visible history left on the paper preoccupies curators and art historians, but the detail of it can become boring to the uninitiated. In a smaller dose, however, it has the making of a detective story. These signs provide important clues in solving the mystery of how these fragile objects - sometimes just snippets of paper - have survived for so many centuries. It also shows how collectors looked after their precious objects, by pasting them on sheets of paper or sticking them in albums and marking them against theft.
This ‘archaeology of drawings’ also included wine and grease stains (Jacone/Carracci) and colour splashes (Tintoretto) left by the artists themselves, but this did not deter collectors from prizing them very highly. Inscriptions placed on the sheets must also be distinguished and handwritings compared. Artist’s names are usually not signatures by the artists themselves, but added later by a different hand. Old master drawings are hardly ever signed, often they were part of the working process and destined to remain in the workshop. They were not regarded as stand-alone works of art. But as soon as they became highly coveted collectables in the 16th century, they were inscribed by art dealers and collectors, to proudly mark them as being by a distinguished master. In some cases the artist’s names added were wishful thinking rather than actual fact and sometimes these inscriptions were deliberately fraudulent. By tracing back the signs which were left on old master drawings and following these markings - elaborate gilded borders, simple pen and ink lines, inscriptions and specially designed stamps – one can reveal the people behind these collections, from artists like Giorgio Vasari and Sir Peter Lely to clergymen, dealers, expert connoisseurs and librarians and they also allow one to establish the authenticity of a work.
Goddesses: Designing Female Beauty in the Renaissance and Baroque
12 September - 2 February 2015
How does one depict Venus, the goddess of love? What does Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, look like or Diana, the goddess of the hunt? How do these divine figures relate to the appearance of mortal females? These are questions which lead artists to create faultless faces and appearances and to invent an ideal beauty in the taste of their time. This is not gender specific – male as well as female ideals were pursued, but male models from which to study and then ultimately create an ideal body or face were usually more easily available. Proportion studies, for example, were mainly calculated with male figures in mind. A female proportion study from the 16th century by the Italian artist Talpino is the only one of its kind and was included in the exhibition. Prints by the German master Albrecht Dürer show his idea of the ideal female form. It differs from that of Talpino, but it is also based on detailed proportion studies, e.g. the figure of Venus in The Dream of the Idler, or the personification of Luck. An engraving of four witches, also by Dürer, was displayed next to drawings of the three Graces by Guercino and an English artist, Charles Beale the Younger, who looks almost too closely at the female anatomy. Other drawings included mythological figures of Venus, Diana, Minerva and Hebe, the goddess of youth. A number of idealised female faces showed the variety of the subject and the inventiveness of the artists and concluded with the self-portrait of the Bolognese artist Elisabetta Sirani, in which individual and idealised features merge.
Sean Scully Encounters: A New Master among Old Masters
30 May - 31 August 2014
Sean Scully (born 1945 in Dublin) has been described as the ‘greatest living abstract painter’. He is best known for his monumental oil paintings, but his watercolours, prints and photographs—though less known—are equally powerful and significant.
Scully abandoned figurative work in the 1960s and has since developed an iconic visual language of strips and blocks. He has explored these forms in a variety of combinations, rhythms, colours and media, and the resulting range is breathtaking. His work is represented in major museums around the world and is regularly displayed internationally in solo exhibitions.
In this, his first exhibition in Oxford, eleven paintings and thirty-three prints by Scully will be on view. The physical power and materiality of his works will be in direct dialogue with the masterpieces of the 16th century from the Christ Church collection: Annibale Carracci’s Butcher’s Shop will be inches away from Scully’s Dark Wall, Jacopo Bassano’s Christ Crowned with Thorns in close proximity to Scully’s Abend, and Scully’s Yellow Robe Red Figure will speak to Jacopo Bertoia’s Mars, Hercules, Bacchus, and Jupiter.
Like Dürer, Rembrandt and Goya, Scully’s prints developed in parallel to his painterly work. Among his prints on display will be Heart of Darkness, Ten Towers, Desire, and Narcissus.
The exhibition was curated by Jacqueline Thalmann and Kelly Grovier with the full support of Sean Scully and his New York studio, as well as with the generous help of Timothy Taylor Gallery. A catalogue will accompany the exhibition.
Sean Scully and Kelly Grovier will be in Conversation in the Blue Boar Lecture Theatre at Christ Church, Oxford, on the 30th May 2014 at 5.00pm.