Professor Anthony Blunt In Spring 2004 it is 25 years since Anthony Blunt’s 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, Blunt’s 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 Blunt’s 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 'Blunt’s Picasso’, on the impact of Blunt’s commitment to Marxism in Picasso’s 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


Perino del Vaga, Design for a Triumphal Arch for the Entry of Charles V into Geno
Perino del Vaga, Design for a Triumphal Arch for the Entry of Charles V into Genoa. 16th century, pen, brown ink and watercolour on paper

Prof. Anthony Blunt on the Conway Summer Photographic Trip to Naples, 1971
Anthony Blunt’s 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 Blunt’s wishes.
On 2 March 2004 we had an opportunity to view a selection of drawings from Blunt’s collection, as a prelude to Professor Joseph Connors’ lecture on Blunt as an architectural historian. Like Blunt’s collection of rare books, bequeathed to the Library, this was a working collection, that of a scholar rather than an aesthete.

Blunt’s drawings often record something — a lost building or decorative scheme; an unexecuted design, e.g. Bernini’s design for the east façade of the Louvre, of 1664; a process of construction, e.g. Fontana’s diagram for the construction of the Baptistry of Saint Peter’s; an ephemeral structure, such as Granucci’s design for a catafalque for Pope Clement XI. In addition, numerous studies after Antique buildings testify to Blunt’s abiding interest in the survival and transformation of the classical language, as in Perino del Vaga’s design for a triumphal arch for the entry of Charles V into Genoa.

Dr. Alexandra Gerstein