Newsletter Archive: Spring 2007
Ivories Working Group
When the collection of Thomas Gambier-Parry was presented to the Courtauld by his grandson, Mark, in 1966, it included an important number of ivories, acquired between c. 1850 and 1880. Some of these were illustrated and discussed in a short article in The Burlington Magazine (1967) by Julian Gardner. Despite the fact that many of the ivories have been on long-term display in the Gallery, they have remained virtually unknown.
In October 2006 an Ivories Working Group was formed with the intention of advancing the study of our ivories, and those of neighbouring collections. A small group of scholars and curators from the Courtauld, British Museum, V&A, Wallace Collection, and Rangers House (former Wernher Collection), together with the occasional enthusiastic dealer/collector, have met on a regular basis in a range of locales, to discuss ivories at first hand and at length. A team of MA students, acting as scribes, have recorded our (sometimes muttered, and often arcane) deliberations. Thanks to a generous donation these students will be funded as interns for four weeks in the summer to begin assembling material towards a scholarly catalogue of our ivories. The prospect of an important short-term loan of ivories to the collection for study purposes is also currently under negotiation.
The most gratifiying outcome, thus far, of this enjoyable collaborative venture has been the removal of the stigma of doubtful authenticity that had previously hung over some of even our finest ivories. They are emerging as works of the first importance, whose long period in obscurity will soon be over.
Prof. John Lowden