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NEWSLETTER

AT THE BRITISH ART CENTER: TURNER & SHAKESPEARE

The following is a press release from Yale University: Turner and the Sublime, a major loan exhibition exploring the relationship of J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851) to theories of the sublime, will open at the Yale Center for British Art on Wednesday, 11 February 1981.

The sublime as an aesthetic concept has been discussed by numerous writers, and Turner’s own interest in the theory, as propounded in the eighteenth century by Edmund Burke and others, has often been noted. But Turner, far from being bound by any theoretical conceptions, used these as the starting point for a whole series of technical and artistic innovations. In pursuit of the sublime, Turner made many very large watercolors which emulated the grandeur and importance of oil paintings. Several of these, together with their no less impressive full-scale preparatory studies, will be included in this exhibition, some being shown for the first time. The most significant of Turner’s paintings in the genre of the sublime will be represented by fine impressions of prints, often engraved under the close supervision of Turner himself.

This exhibition, the first to examine a specific aspect of Turner’s art, will include 123 watercolors, prints and drawings executed between 1793 and 1845. Of these works, sixty constitute an unprecedented loan from the resources of the Turner Bequest, deposited in the British Museum in London; in addition, a sizable number of works come from the Center’s own holdings, and others from private collections.

Turner and the Sublime has already received considerable attention at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto where it opened on 1 November 1980. After closing in New Haven on 19 April 1981, it will travel to the British Museum in London where it will be on view from 15 May through 20 September 1981.

The 192-page catalogue accompanying the exhibition, published by British Museum Publications and available at the Center’s Sales Desk, includes 32 color plates and 108 black and white reproductions. Written by Andrew Wilton, a leading authority on Turner watercolors and Curator of Prints and Drawings through December 1980, the catalogue discusses Turner’s training and early career in the light of traditional attitudes to the sublime and considers the mature Turner’s use of them for his own needs.

Shakespeare and British Art, an exhibition bringing together for the first time the University’s extensive holdings of Shakespearean art, will open at the Yale Center for British Art on Thursday, 23 April and remain on view through Sunday, 5 July 1981.

William Shakespeare was one of the most important literary inspirations for British artists in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Nearly 1400 works based upon scenes or characters in his plays were shown at the Royal Academy exhibitions between 1769 and 1900. One of the most significant events in the development of an English School of history painting was Josiah Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, a group of paintings, illustrating the plays of Shakespeare, which were commissioned in the last quarter of the eighteenth century and engraved for subscription. Illustrated editions of Shakespeare’s works proliferated, especially during the nineteenth century when over three hundred were in print.

This exhibition surveys the literary and visual sources of Shakespearean illustration, from the first illustrated edition of 1709 to Victorian interpretations of this theme. It draws on the large collection of Shakespearean material in the British Art Center, including a number of paintings from the Boydell Shakspeare Gallery and others of important eighteeth century actors in major roles, such as Benjamin Wilson’s David Garrick and George Anne Bellamy as Romeo and Juliet and Pieter Van Bleeck’s Mrs. Cibber as Cordelia. Nearly thirty paintings and over 120 drawings and prints from the Center’s collection will be on view. Among the artists represented by important drawings and watercolors are Francis Hayman, George Romney, Henry Fuseli, Richard Parkes Bonington, Francis Danby and Frederic Lord Leighton. The Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington, Connecticut will be lending five watercolor drawings by H. W. Bunbury as well as fifteen engravings. Finally, a number of prints and rare, illustrated editions of Shakespeare from the collections of Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and Sterling Memorial Library will be on display.

The exhibition has been organized by Geoffrey Ashton, Librarian of the Garrick Club and former resident fellow of the British Art Center, who is a specialist in theatrical and Shakespearean art. It will be accompanied by a catalogue with 110 illustrations and detailed entries on all 190 objects in the exhibition.

In conjunction with Shakespeare and British Art, the Center will offer a range of special programs. On Friday, 24 April at 4 p.m., The Lord Annan, Vice-Chancellor the the University of London, will deliver a lecture, sponsored by the British Studies Program, entitled “How Should We Produce Shakespeare?” On Saturday, 25 April from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., there will be a symposium, Shakespeare in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Topics under discussion will include: the relationship of Shakespeare’s plays to visual depictions of them, the importance of Shakespearean drama as a subject for art, and performances of the bard’s works during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The program will feature the following talks:

10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

The Coral Reef: Some Morning Thoughts on Shakespeare

—Maynard Mack, Sterling Professor Emeritus of English, Yale University.

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Confrontation and Complexity in Shakespeare’s Scenes

—George Hunter, Professor of English, Yale University University.

Acting Shakespeare

—Eugene Waith, Douglas Tracy Smith Professor of English Literature, Yale University.

Boydell’s Shakespeare

—G. E. Bentley, Professor of English, University of Toronto.

2:30-4:30 p.m.

Shakespeare and the Artist in the Nineteenth Century

—Geoffrey Ashton, Librarian, Garrick Club, London, England.

Turner’s “Juliet and her Nurse”

—Ronald Paulson, Thomas E. Donnelly Professor of English, Yale University.

Shakespearean Paintings and Nineteenth-Century Art Criticism

—Richard D. Altick, Professor of English, The Ohio State University, Columbs.

Honor and Dejection: Holman Hunt’s Problem with a Problem Play

—Mark Roskill, Professor of Art History, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

On Sunday, 26 April at 3 p.m., Ann Carter-Cox, a soprano who has given solo recitals at Carnegie Hall, Town Hall and Abraham Goodman House in New York and appeared regularly at the Medieval Faires held at the Cloisters each summer, will perform at the Center. Accompanying herself on the lute and dulcimer, she will sing songs of medieval and Renaissance England, including lyrics from Shakespeare’s plays. The following Sunday (3 May), also at 3 p.m., students in the Yale School of Drama will present scenes from Shakespeare as performed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

As part of the Center’s “Art in Context” series Tuesdays at 12:30 p.m., Judith Colton, Associate Professor of the History of Art, will present an informal lecture on the oil painting by Adrien Carpentiers entitled “Roubiliac Modeling his Monument to Shakespeare” on 21 April, and Patrick Noon, Acting Curator of Prints and Drawings, will discuss “The Reconciliation of the Montagues and the Capulets,” a watercolor by Frederic Lord Leighton, on 21 April.

Gallery talks by members of the Department of Academic Programs are scheduled for the following Thursdays at 2 p.m.: 23 and 30 April; 7 and 21 May; 4, 18 and 25 June. Special tours of the exhibition may be arranged by contacting Teri Edelstein at 203/436-3013.

A summer film series, featuring Shakespearean films made in the United States, Great Britain, and Germany displaying a variety of cinematic techniques and concepts, is scheduled for the following Saturdays at 2:30 p.m.: 13 June—Macbeth; 27 June—A Midsummer Night’s Dream; 18 July—Othello; 1 August—Romeo and Juliet; 15 August—Hamlet. All programs are open to the public without charge.

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