Issue 21 : Spring 2006
Giles Worsley 1962-2006 (Ph.D. 1989), who
has died of cancer at the all too early age of 44, pursued a remarkable
double career, as journalist and academic architectural historian,
achieving in barely twenty years more than enough to fill a whole
Giles came to the Courtauld Institute in 1983 after taking his first degree in Modern History at Oxford, and was already fascinated by buildings, in particular by British classical architecture. His primary motivation in this was not far to seek. His family home, Hovingham Hall in Yorkshire, had been built by Giles’s ancestor, Thomas Worsley, to his own design. What is more, Thomas held the official post of Surveyor-General of the Royal Works, with his friend Sir William Chambers as his deputy.
Giles arrived at the Courtauld at the time in the mid-1980s when the two-year M.A. course was replaced by a taught M. Phil. For able and ambitious students however it was an unattractive prospect to toil for two years for a ‘research’ degree which led no further than the threshold to Ph.D. research. Giles was among the group who successfully lobbied to register for the Ph.D. after only one year’s preparatory work.
Now too he had his research topic ready to hand. Hovingham Hall, uniquely, incorporates a riding school (1767-9) in the body of the house, a neo-antique space of great dignity. So his thesis bears the title ‘The Design and Development of the Stable and Riding House in Great Britain from the Thirteenth Century to 1914’.
Research students, in my experience, fall into two groups. Most develop the structure and argument of their theses little by little, tutorial by tutorial, in discussion with the supervisor. But a small group, of whom Giles was undoubtedly one, use the supervisor as a sounding board, to test out ideas which they have already formulated. I had imagined that Giles’s thesis would have at its centre the discussion of a series of stable buildings, but on the contrary he fastened on the literature of stable design and equine management, much of it rediscovered by him. From his research he could demonstrate what was really significant both about the displayful features of Jacobean, Georgian and Victorian stables and such vital practicalities as ventilation and draining.
Shortly before completing his thesis Giles was talent-spotted by John Cornforth and invited to join the team of architectural writers at Country Life. From then on he developed his dual career, as obituaries elsewhere have detailed. As a result his ambition to publish his thesis threatened to remain unfulfilled. Finally, however, in 2004 Yale University Press published Giles’s The British Stable, apparently a magnificent coffee-table book, but in reality the thoroughly reworked product of his PhD research. This will not be his last book, for after the diagnosis of his illness early in 2005 Giles worked with single-minded determination to complete another major work, a monograph on Inigo Jones, which Yale will publish later this year.
Prof John Newman
John Hayes 1929-2005, was a scholar – notably of Gainsborough, and from 1974 to 1994, Director of the National Portrait Gallery. He read modern history at Keble College, Oxford and took a postgraduate diploma at the Courtauld Institute of Art in 1954. He gained a PhD on the landscapes of Gainsborough in 1962.
Hayes’ first curatorship, began in 1954 at the old London Museum in Kensington Palace. He became Director for four years, 1970-74, before it moved to the Barbican as the Museum of London.
By this time he was well established as a Gainsborough scholar, organizing an exhibition of the 18th-century master’s drawings for the Arts Council in 1960. He published two catalogues – of the drawings in 1970 and the landscape paintings in 1982. He also published Gainsborough’s prints in 1971 and an edition of the letters in 2000, while curating exhibitions at the Tate Gallery in 1980, Paris in 1981 and Ferrara in 1998.
Hayes’s publications included studies devoted to Graham Sutherland, Mary Quant and, as his retiring exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, Thomas Eakins. In 1997 he catalogued the British paintings in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, and those in the Cincinnati Art Museum.
In 1974, Hayes moved to the directorship of the National Portrait Gallery, following Roy Strong. He established the National Portrait Award, set up two out-houses of the museum in Yorkshire and North Wales. He was made a CBE in 1996 and was a Fellow of the Society of Arts.