Newsletter Archive: Spring 2004
The Brisk Pace of Life at the Courtauld:
A Message from the Director
The pace of life in and around the Institute refuses to lessen. We have made two distinguished appointments, Dr. Paul Hills, Professor of Renaissance Art, and Dr. Anthony Eastmond, Reader of Byzantine Art; the former to replace Jennifer Fletcher, who retired two years ago, and the latter to replace Professor Robin Cormack, who is retiring at the end of this academic year. With these appointments, and the arrival of Professor Joseph Koerner to teach Northern Renaissance and Early Modern German Art, we will have a full complement of teachers in the history of art; in fact, will have increased our teaching staff by one.
At the same time, four members of teaching staff have or will have published books this year: Dr Peter Stewart on Roman sculpture (Cambridge University Press), Dr Georgia Clarke on the Renaissance house (Cambridge University Press), Professor John House on Impressionism (Yale University Press), and me on art museums and the public trust (Princeton University Press). And, of course, all members of teaching staff have published articles, essays, and have given public, specialist lectures. In this respect, it has been a very productive year for teaching staff members. I am especially pleased to report that Dr Katie Scott has received an AHRB 1+1 fellowship for next year, which will allow her to extend her sabbatical for the entire academic year, during which she will advance her work on her next book on 18th-century French decorative arts.
The Courtaulds Research Forum has become firmly established under the directorship of Professor Patricia Rubin, who has been appointed Deputy Director with this specific portfolio; Dr Joanna Woodall is Deputy Director, Head of Studies. We are completing our first year of programming for the Forum, with seminars and conferences on Flemish Illuminated manuscripts and Islamic art, and a special "intellectual formation" seminar, offered by such distinguished figures in our field as Professors Hubert Damisch, Svetlana Alpers, Craig Clunas, and TJ Clark. Finding funding for post-doctorate fellowships, based in the Forum, is now more important than ever. Any help or advice you can give in this respect would be much appreciated.
The Courtauld Gallery has been in the process of reinstallation. This allows us to present our collections according to their strengths, as distinct collections, built by individuals with important positions in the history of collecting in England during the second half of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. Their collections, held by the Samuel Courtauld Trust, complement one another and are critical resources for the Institutes teaching and research in the history and conservation of art. An exhibition space for rotating exhibitions from and in response to our permanent collection has thus been recreated. The Robert Witt collection of drawings, allows us to include Witt, the creator of the great photographic library of paintings, in our installation of original Courtauld Institute collections.
The Hermitage Rooms recently completed the highly acclaimed exhibition of oil sketches by Peter Paul Rubens. The critical response was uniformly positive, from the daily newspapers to such art historical journals as The Burlington Magazine. The recently-opened Islamic exhibition, holds equal promise and will allow us to host a conference exploring how and whether we might begin teaching the history of Islamic art at the Courtauld.
Finally, we are in the advanced stages of planning and implementing the refurbishment and renovation of the Institute scheduled for this summer or next, depending on permits and funding. This will involve bringing all art history teaching staff into the east wing of the Institute, moving the Conway Library to the west wing. It will include renovating our current seminar rooms, making them technologically smart and adding a new medium-sized lecture/seminar room, renovating the Gallerys Prints and Drawings Room and creating a space for the Research Forum.
It only remains for me to say again, as I have said to you and others in person and/or in writing, that I regret leaving the Courtauld after so brief a tenure, however attractive the presidency and directorship of the Art Institute of Chicago is. For the Courtauld remains an institution of great consequence to and unique leadership in the field, not only in the UK but also throughout the world. It has been an honour and privilege to serve as its Director.
Director and Märit Rausing Professor