Portraits and Textiles Seminar, 17 January 2012
This seminar, held in collaboration with the Dress & Textile Specialists network, was hosted by Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. Professor Aileen Ribeiro delivered the keynote address and speakers included Karen Hearn, 16th and 17th century Curator at Tate; Felicite Gillham, theatrical wig maker and hair historian; and Joanna Hashagen, Keeper of Textiles at the Bowes Museum. Seventy delegates enjoyed the diverse range of papers and the discussion session which was expertly chaired by Professor Marcia Pointon. Please see further details and handouts below, and synopses of some of the papers.
Professor Aileen Ribeiro
Within the constraints of a very brief time frame, this presentation opened up some of the different ways in which artists negotiate dress, from overt reality through to various degrees of imaginative reality where essence and idea prevail over the minutiae of fashion, and to portraits where the artist, sometimes with the help of the drapery painter, clothes his sitters in fancy dress or ‘timeless’ draperies. Perhaps the most interesting concept is where the clothing is so integral to the image that the portrait is as much a depiction of costume as of the sitter, and by the alchemy of the artist forms a complete and perfect unity. The presentation concluded by suggesting that while portraiture can and does inform research into dress, a knowledge and understanding of dress offers deeper and more complex meanings to portraits.