On the 7th December we held our first public event to help celebrate our latest acquisition ‘St Luke Drawing the Virgin and Child’ here at the Museum, and brilliantly, it turned out to be a very interesting and informative day for our visitors.
The day started with a talk by Bernadette Petti (our Assistant Curator of Fine Art) in the ‘Image and Substance’ display, where the painting will be exhibited until the 8th January.
After this, local artist Vicky Holbrough held two practical workshops giving visitors the opportunity to try their hand at Silverpoint drawing and Watercolour painting.
Inspired by the imagery and medium which St Luke is using to draw the Virgin and Christ Child within the painting, the workshop participants tried their hand at Silverpoint drawing (many for the first time), doing mark-making and sketching fruit.
After this, the workshops’ focus turned to Watercolour, as the participants used view finders and the incredible scenery from the Jubilee Room windows to paint beautiful landscapes inspired by the scenery in the painting.
The workshops proved to be a success and will be definitely something which we’ll repeat next year!
Once we had a brief break for lunch our Keeper of Ceramics, Dr Howard Coutts, gave another gallery talk to visitors, and newly inspired artist from the workshops, explaining how we came to acquire the piece and its importance in history.
After this, we had an afternoon of lectures from external speakers in the Jubilee Room.
Firstly, Dr Jeanne Nuechterlein from York University gave a lecture about the painting’s knowing visual references to other important artworks by painters such as Jan van Eyck and Rogier van der Weyden.
Linking well to our previous workshops, visitors were kept intrigued by the hidden imagery within Bouts’ and his contemporaries paintings.
And finally to end our day, we had a joint lecture by the National Gallery conservators, Rachel Billinge and Britta New, where they looked at the study and conservation of early Netherlandish paintings, as well as our piece from Dieric Bouts. The most amazing fact being that to transfer the painting from its original oak panels onto the canvas which we have it on today, Conservators in 1899 held the painting over acid for just enough time for the paint layer to slide off in one piece, enabling it to be reapplied to a canvas. (Definitely not something our Conservators would be keen on trying today!)
We were so pleased that our first event proved very popular! We will be running a series of events and workshops to continue to celebrate our new acquisition throughout the next year. Please keep an eye on our website and social media accounts for updates on the next events.
By Catherine Dickinson, Coordinator for the Bouts Public Display and Activity Plan