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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

Spanish Art in County Durham: Dr Marjorie Trusted [Senior Curator of Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum] 'Attitudes to Spanish Sculpture in the 19th Century'

15th January 2015, 18:00, Bowes Museum, Bowes, Co Durham

Attitudes to Spanish Sculpture in the 19th Century
15 January, 6.00pm drinks reception followed by Lecture at 7.00pm

Dr Marjorie Trusted is Senior Curator of Sculpture at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where she has been based since 1979. She has lectured and published widely on sculpture, including the catalogue of Spanish sculpture at the V&A (1996), and a book on the arts of Spain and Latin America (2007). She is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

Her talk will consider the fact that the colour, emotional intensity and religious fervour seen in Spanish sculpture meant that in the 19th century many British connoisseurs and art lovers were repelled by it. Few people collected Spanish sculpture, and most museums failed to acquire any examples for their fledgling collections. The great 19th-century Hispanist and travel writer Richard Ford wrote, ‘The essence of statuary is form, and to clothe a statue, said Byron, is like translating Dante: a marble statue never deceives; it is the colouring it that does, and is a trick beneath the severity of sculpture.’ A great exception to this widespread hostility was the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A). The museum’s first curator, John Charles Robinson, bought for the collections a range of important and intriguing Spanish sculptures, which are still amongst the V&A’s most treasured works. This lecture will discuss more general attitudes in Britain towards Spanish sculpture from the mid-19th century onwards, revealing how contemporary comments paradoxically illuminate and help us understand these compelling sculptures.

Booking required on caroline.nilsson@thebowesmuseum.org.uk or 01833 690606.

This is the third in a series of four lectures on Spanish Art which celebrate the Spanish Art in County Durham partnership between Auckland Castle, The Bowes Museum and Durham University. The organizers would like to acknowledge generous financial assistance from the Institute of Advanced Study and the Centre for Visual arts and Culture at Durham University. 

Contact caroline.nilsson@thebowesmuseum.org.uk for more information about this event.