Newsletter Archive: Spring 2004
A Re-assessment of Professor Anthony Blunt
In Spring 2004 it is 25 years since Anthony Blunts public unmasking as a spy. His ghost still haunts the Institute, in part because his disgrace has meant that we have not been able to discuss his intellectual contribution and seminal role in shaping its character and ethos. In the Spring Lecture Series, sponsored by the Friends of the Courtauld Institute, we wanted to lay his ghost to rest by moving beyond loyalty to, or blame of him as an individual, to a consideration of him as an intellectual and personality operating within and shaped by particular intellectual, cultural, political and social conditions.
Miranda Carter, the author of the well-received biography of Blunt talked about his life. In a round-table session, chaired by Prof. Christopher Green, Blunts former colleagues Dr. John Golding, Prof. Robin Cormack, Prof. Peter Kidson and Prof. Michael Hirst discussed their experience of him as a teacher and director of the Institute. Prof. Joseph Connors reviewed Blunts significance as an architectural historian who "boldly went where no man — at least no Englishman — had gone before". David Carrier spoke about Blunt as an art historian, focussing on his work on Poussin. Prof. Christopher Green discussed 'Blunts Picasso, on the impact of Blunts commitment to Marxism in Picassos work, in a lecture on Guernica that he gave annually, and modified considerably, throughout his career at the Institute. The series also included an exhibition of his books curated by Dr. Katie Scott and the Deputy Book Librarian, Ann Sproat.
Dr. Joanna Woodall — Deputy Director
A Selection of Architectural Drawings from the Blunt Collection
Prof. Anthony Blunt on the Conway Summer Photographic Trip to Naples, 1971
Anthony Blunts collection of 140 drawings were bequeathed to the Courtauld Institute Gallery in 1984. The gift was made through the auspices of the NACF in accordance with Blunts wishes.
On 2 March 2004 we had an opportunity to view a selection of drawings from Blunts collection, as a prelude to Professor Joseph Connors lecture on Blunt as an architectural historian. Like Blunts collection of rare books, bequeathed to the Library, this was a working collection, that of a scholar rather than an aesthete.
Blunts drawings often record something — a lost building or decorative scheme; an unexecuted design, e.g. Berninis design for the east façade of the Louvre, of 1664; a process of construction, e.g. Fontanas diagram for the construction of the Baptistry of Saint Peters; an ephemeral structure, such as Granuccis design for a catafalque for Pope Clement XI. In addition, numerous studies after Antique buildings testify to Blunts abiding interest in the survival and transformation of the classical language, as in Perino del Vagas design for a triumphal arch for the entry of Charles V into Genoa.
Dr. Alexandra Gerstein