Gallery blog

New Art History

24 April 2015 by Aindrea Emelife


My name is Aindrea Emelife and I am a twenty-one year old art critic and presenter from London, currently in my final year BA History of Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art.  My aim is to recontextualise art history for the younger generation by looking at the past through a contemporary lens. Rubens, Gauguin and Cezanne will never be the same again!

These are three short films I have made about my favourite paintings from The Courtauld Collection.





About me

I have presented films for Waldemar Januszczak (ZCZ Films), the Dairy Art Centre, the Hepworth Wakefield Museum, the Royal Academy of Arts and The Courtauld Gallery. I am  currently working on a number of art documentary projects and commissions for 2015/16 whilst being mentored by Courtauld alumnus and art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon.


I have written for The Financial Times, The Guardian, RA Magazine and This is Tomorrow amongst other international publications. I continue to work directly with various artists, collectors and galleries on various projects and initiatives and have recently taken up a role as head curator for a South East London art project space to be relaunched later this year.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cupid Darts to London

23 March 2015 by Emily


For the first time in over 100 years Cézanne’s cupid and  Still Life with Plaster Cast are reunited at The Courtauld Gallery thanks to our friends at Eurostar.

The cupid statue has travelled all the way from the South of France to The Gallery to celebrate Eurostar’s new direct service to the artists home region, starting on May 1st.

Take a look at its journey: 

Eurostar Reunites Cezanne Treasures After Over 100 Years

Eurostar Reunites Cezanne Treasures After Over 100 Years

Eurostar Reunites Cezanne Treasures After Over 100 Years

 Eurostar Reunites Cezanne Treasures After Over 100 Years

Eurostar Reunites Cezanne Treasures After Over 100 Years

The cupid will be on display for the two of months and then make its way back to Cézanne’s studio in Aix-en-Provence

Categories: Collection, Displays, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Spellbinding Creatures

James Stow after Richard Westall, Three Witches from Macbeth, Act I, scene III, from Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, 1797-1802, etching and engraving

10 March 2015 by Bryony Bartlett-Rawlings


Consisting of over 24,000 individual items, prints form the largest part of the collection in the Courtauld Institute of Art. Rotating displays in the print room curated by the print room assistants, like myself, offer visitors the chance to see part of this extensive collection. To complement the current exhibition in the Courtauld, which reconstructs Goya’s Witches and Old Women album, I have selected prints that show artistic responses to witchcraft for the current print room display.

Witches and Supernatural Spirits charts a fascination with witchcraft from the sixteenth century through to the 1850s. These haggard creatures, brewing potions over blazing fires, provided artists subjects to demonstrate their skill at representing grotesque figures in dramatically lit settings. Perhaps most striking was a witch’s unnatural act of flying, which the earliest treatise on witchcraft, the Malleus Maleficarum (1486), described as being achieved through the application of a magical lotion to the body. Parmigianino explores this by showing a witch mounted on a chimerical animal, at the moment when its feet leave the earth.

Like many sixteenth-century artists, Johann Wilhelm Baur’s Witches’ Sacrifice, responds to contemporary accounts from the European witch-hunts.  This macabre print shows a witch crouching over her victim, lying within a magic circle, as she slits his throat. What I find particularly curious about this etching is the artist’s sense of humour.  He show one of the flying devils in the billowing smoke in the upper left farting into the fire below whilst looking out at us and laughing.

Researching for this display I was struck by the fact that so many works illustrate descriptions in literature of witchcraft, many of which are embedded in our culture. Perhaps the most well-known are the three witches from Macbeth, who famously predict the fate of the play’s hero. This print comes from the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery, a project begun in 1786 by the engraver and publisher John Boydell to produce of an illustrated edition of Shakespeare’s plays based on paintings by the most prominent painters of the day. Here Richard Westall conjures up the witches’ foreboding prophecy by showing the figures shrouded in smoke.

Written in 1790 Robert Burns’ poem Tam o’Shanter (1790) describes the drunken Tam stumbling across a dance attended by witches and warlocks in a haunted church. In his illustration to the poem published in 1855 John Faed shows Tam, having been discovered, fleeing on his horse Maggie, pursued by an array of monstrous creatures. Here the printmaker James Stephenson demonstrates a masterful use of light and shade to convey the atmosphere of the nocturnal encounter and highlight the ghoulish features of the pursuers.

The display, along with rest of collection of works on paper, can be viewed by visitors to the print room. As well as offering visits by appointment the print room is open for drop-in session every Wednesday during term time from 13.30-16.00.



Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s Almost Time! Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album

25 February 2015 by Emily




After a busy week of installation, our major exhibition Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album is almost ready to open.


Our exhibition space has been transformed, offering visitors a glimpse into the private world of Goya’s boundless imagination, expressed through visions and nightmares superstitions and problems of old age.


Our conservation and curatorial teams have been working with museums and galleries across the globe and as a result we have reunited the wildly scattered pages of Goya’s Witches and Old Women Album. This is the first time this album has been reconstructed in its original sequence and we can’t wait to show you the results.

Find out more about the exhibition here  and avoid the queues by booking your ticket online


The exhibition coming together


IMG_8956 -blog-blogIMG_3390_Blog


Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album opens 25 March 2015

The Courtauld Gallery , Somerset House


Categories: Collection, Exhibitions, Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crazy in Love

13 February 2015 by Emily


According to the shop displays and florists since New Year’s Day, the celebration of love and chocolate is around the corner. To celebrate Valentine’s Day here at the Gallery, we took a look at our collection’s best depictions of love.


The Nerli Chest, Biagio d’Antonio, 1472

Chest and spalliera with the arms of Vaggia Nerli and Lorenzo Morelli (The Nerli Chest)

One of a pair of chests made to celebrate the marriage of Vaggia Nerli and Lorenzo Morelli, the Nerli chest was intended for the bride.

Though made in celebration of matrimony, the chest itself seems more a celebration of maternal love than marital affection. It shows the story of the punishment of schoolmaster in ancient Falerii who wanted to offer his pupils to the Romans, betraying them. The Roman officer Camillus saved the children from this fate and gave them rods with which to beat the schoolmaster, a reminder for Vaggia Nerli to protect her children.

Perhaps the moral is that to love your children is to teach them how to protect themselves… with a big stick.


Peter Paul Rubens, Family of Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1613-15

Peter Paul Rubens, Family of Jan Brueghel the Elder, 1613-15

This one is so sweet it hurts, rendering me unable to make a joke. Rubens and Jan Brueghel were close friends and Rubens created a tender portrait of his friend and his family. 

Catharina Brueghel sweetly draws her two children closer, gently touching her son Pieter’s shoulder as he plays with her bracelet. She clasps hands with her young daughter Elisabeth as the little girl stares adoringly up at her mother.


Thomas Gainsborough, Portrait of Mrs. Gainsborough, Circa 1778

Thomas Gainsborough, Portrait of Mrs. Gainsborough, Circa 1778

Family legend holds that Mr. Gainsborough painted a portrait of his Mrs. every year on their wedding anniversary.

Sadly we only know of 5 portraits of Mrs. Gainsborough by her husband, but this portrait is a beautiful testament to their (sometimes fraught) relationship. When painting family, someone the artist knows well, the experience is vastly different from a commissioned portrait or working with a professional model.

This painting is more informal, the technique looser than in other Gainsborough portraits.


Georges Seurat, Young Woman Powdering Herself, ca 1888-90

To finish, a secret love. The woman in the was Seurat’s mistress Madeleine Knobloch. It was only after Seurat’s death that his family learned of her relationship with Seurat and the two children she bore him.

As can be seen in this infra-red photograph, which shows the paint layers underneath the surface, Seurat originally represented himself in the small mirror, painting Madeleine as she applied her makeup.

A friend, unaware of the romantic relationship between painter and model, made fun of Seurat’s inclusion of himself and Seurat angrily painted himself out, replacing his face with flowers in a vase on the corner of a table.

In 1890, Madeleine lost both Seurat and their eldest son to an infectious disease, probably diphtheria.

Categories: Collection, Master Drawings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

← Older posts