Catriona McIntosh's fabric samples
Catriona McIntosh's fabric samples

‘Anything anyone ever wore, anywhere.’ Reflections on Depicting Dress by Catriona McIntosh

On the 20 September, I attended the Depicting Dress workshop run by Prof. Jenny Tiramani and Vanessa Hopkins, teachers at The School of Historical Dress in Lambeth. In late spring when I had read the description of the workshop, I thought it would provide a fantastic development opportunity; a chance to improve my knowledge and foster some confidence in speaking to our audiences about dress in the 18th century. I work on the Learning team at Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre,[...]

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  1. James Berkeley, 3rd Earl of Berkeley by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt., oil on canvas, c.1710 © National Portrait Gallery, London. Berkeley appears to be wearing a deep rust red silk velvet coat with a linen stock at his throat. The cuff of his linen shirt is just visible, emerging from the end of his coat sleeve.
    James Berkeley, 3rd Earl of Berkeley by Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt., oil on canvas, c.1710 © National Portrait Gallery, London. Berkeley appears to be wearing a deep rust red silk velvet coat with a linen stock at his throat. The cuff of his linen shirt is just visible, emerging from the end of his coat sleeve.

    Depicting Dress. A professional workshop on male and female dress in eighteenth-century portraits by Veronica Isaac

    04 October 2017

    This collaborative workshop between the Understanding British Portraits professional network and the School of Historical Dress was led by two of the School’s teachers, Professor Jenny Tiramani and Vanessa Hopkins and took place their newly opened headquarters in Lambeth. The day commenced in the extremely well-stocked library, where Jenny and Vanessa provided a brief introduction to the school and its founding purpose: to collect and promote knowledge about ‘Anything anyone ever wore, anywhere.’ Turning to the focus of the workshop,[...]

  2. The Dutch Domesticity display in Gallery 7 of the Europe 1600-1815 Galleries, 2016. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
    The Dutch Domesticity display in Gallery 7 of the Europe 1600-1815 Galleries, 2016. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

    Portraits of Domesticity and Collecting in the V&A’s Europe 1600-1815 Galleries, by Dawn Hoskin

    01 August 2017

    I attended the Decoding the domestic interior in British portraits seminar at the Geffrye Museum, ostensibly in my current role as Assistant Curator of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at the Victoria & Albert Museum – these of course all being types of objects commonly found within portraits. Not being a portrait specialist nor someone focused solely on British material, I was interested in further exploring issues surrounding the use of portraits as research tools for understanding objects within our collections. The[...]

  3. Detail from 'Mr and Mrs Robinson in their bed-sitting room' (National Archives, Kew, WORK25-200).
    Detail from 'Mr and Mrs Robinson in their bed-sitting room' (National Archives, Kew, WORK25-200).

    Domestic interiors in the Archives: Mr & Mrs Robinson, Mrs Morice and Thomas Cromwell, by Sally Hoult

    20 July 2017

    At the end of June, a colleague and I, attended the Understanding British Portraits seminar at the Geffrye Museum. We attended as part of a newly formed specialists’ records team here at The National Archives, looking specifically at our Design, Photographs and Art Collections. As the archive of central government, the records we hold cover a span of around a thousand years. Within the context of our own images, I found the idea of the domestic interior in British portraits[...]

  4. Frances Garnet Wolseley, Viscountess Wolseley (1872-1936) by Julian Russell Story, 1884. Collection of Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove
    Frances Garnet Wolseley, Viscountess Wolseley (1872-1936) by Julian Russell Story, 1884. Collection of Royal Pavilion and Museums, Brighton & Hove

    Who Are You? A Childhood Portrait of Viscountess Frances Wolseley by Su Hepburn

    19 June 2017

    My application for my Understanding British Portraits Fellowship began with a simple question, ‘who are you?’, which is what I thought the moment I saw the portrait of a young girl staring out so boldly from the canvas. Little did I know what an amazing person I had come across. The portrait of The Honourable Frances Wolseley was painted in 1884, by Julian Russell Story. Frances was born in 1872 so in this portrait she is 12 years old. The[...]

  5. Portrait print © Bath & North East Somerset Council 2017
    Portrait print © Bath & North East Somerset Council 2017

    What is a portrait? Working with portraits at the Victoria Art Gallery by Liz Benington

    06 June 2017

    I attended this seminar at the National Portrait Gallery, keen to develop our work with portraits at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath. Portraits are one of our most popular subjects with schools and nurseries. I was also looking forward to seeing more of the work of Howard Hodgkin the National Portrait Gallery exhibition: Howard Hodgkin: Absent Friends. An early point in the seminar was that portraits are not always of people. One of the most popular portraits in the[...]

  6. Portrait of William, Lord Russell by Theodore Russell. Weston Park Collection 101.0313
    Portrait of William, Lord Russell by Theodore Russell. Weston Park Collection 101.0313

    Weston Park & Woburn Abbey : A Family Connection, by Victoria Poulton

    25 May 2017

    During the recent Understanding British Portraits Study Day at Weston Park, we were expertly guided through the collection by Gareth Williams, Curator & Head of Learning, and Sally Goodsir, who has undertaken a thorough analysis of the provenance and hang of the pictures. Working on a similar project at Woburn Abbey, it was exciting to hear more about this research, particularly as there are close family connections between the two houses. Lady Diana Russell (1622-95), daughter of the 4th Earl[...]

  7. Our tour of the house began in the Breakfast Room, with its impressive collection of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century portraits.
    Our tour of the house began in the Breakfast Room, with its impressive collection of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century portraits. Image by Emma Nock.

    Portraits in context at Weston Park by Emma Nock

    03 April 2017

    As somebody whose own specialism is not actually in art history (but rather in historic houses and other buildings), I was very keen to attend the portrait study day at Weston Park, not only to enjoy privileged access to the house and collections, but also to benefit from the in-depth knowledge of their curator—Gareth Williams—and my fellow delegates. As a curator with the National Trust in the South West region, my own current role is a twelve-month research project to[...]

  8. Portrait of Bell and Dorothy Freeman, watercolour on paper, by Edward Robert Hughes, signed and dated 1889. © The Geffrye Museum of the Home, London. Purchased with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund.
    Portrait of Bell and Dorothy Freeman, watercolour on paper, by Edward Robert Hughes, signed and dated 1889. © The Geffrye Museum of the Home, London. Purchased with the assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and the Arts Council England/Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund.

    E. R. Hughes’ Portrait of Bell and Dorothy Freeman Acquired by the Geffrye Museum, by Emma Hardy

    13 February 2017

    The Geffrye Museum of the Home has recently purchased a beautiful, large-scale watercolour portrait of two young sisters in a domestic interior by the late Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Robert Hughes. Today Hughes is best-known for his ‘blue’ paintings – a series of spectacular, highly finished watercolours on literary and mystical themes, featuring winged allegorical figures against luminous blue skies, completed towards the end of this life. However, during his lifetime, his critical reputation was largely based upon his portraiture, especially[...]

  9. Thomas Burnet, appointed Master of the Charterhouse in 1685. Courtesy of The Charterhouse
    Thomas Burnet, appointed Master of the Charterhouse in 1685. Courtesy of The Charterhouse

    Revealing the Charterhouse, by Ellie Darton-Moore

    16 January 2017

    In December I returned to the National Portrait Gallery, where I had worked for 3 years until last autumn, to attend the annual Understanding British Portraits conference. On the agenda was a talk by Ibby Lanfear, Paintings Conservator, which focused on a collection of 17th-century portraits here at the Charterhouse. It was a wonderful experience to sit with colleagues old and new in the quiet hush of the Ondaatje Wing Theatre to listen to her talk. The Charterhouse is a[...]