Ben Thomas – Curating Raphael: Invention and Eloquence

Event Date: 9 May 2018

Arts Lecture Theatre 3

Royal Holloway University of London
Egham, Surrey
TW20 0EX

The Humanities and Arts Research Institute at Royal Holloway University of London presents:

Making Space for Art – Curating Raphael: Invention and Eloquence

The concerns of art historians in discussing the drawings of Raphael have traditionally been project-oriented, including the identification of sequences of studies relating to public and private commissions, and the categorization of different types of drawings within a systematic design process leading towards a finished art work. Questions of attribution, dating and function have been of fundamental importance. Instead, the Ashmolean exhibition Raphael: The Drawings curated by Ben Thomas and Catherine Whistler in 2017 proposed a complementary approach, shifting the ground from the linear and teleological consideration of drawings in relation to paintings to an exploration of the gestural act of drawing and of the values inherent to disegno. We argued for Raphael’s heightened awareness of the visual and material eloquence of drawing in a rhetorically alert and sophisticated culture. Above all we emphasized the experimental, inventive and affective qualities of his drawings.

This paper will reflect on the experience of co-curating Raphael: The Drawings, and will consider reactions to the innovative approach it proposed, and indicate possible new avenues for research.

Dr Ben Thomas is Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of Kent. He was co-curator of the exhibition Raphael: The Drawings at the Ashmolean Museum in 2017, described by The Financial Times as ‘a game-changing presentation of graphic art’ and winner of the Apollo Magazine ‘exhibition of the year’ award. Thomas has published widely on a range of art historical topics including Renaissance art, the history of collecting, the history of printmaking, nineteenth-century sculpture and contemporary art.

Introduction by Professor Eric Robertson (RHUL):


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