Karen’s Cabinet of Curiosities: April 2017

dsc_0072Curiosity: Rock crystal and enamelled silver casket


Origin: probably Vienna, Austria


Date: 2nd half 19th century (before 1882)


Maker: unknown/no maker’s mark


Measurements: ca. 14x12x9.5 cm


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Who were Edward J. Burrow and Richard Eustace Tickell and why did they record The Vale of Nantgwilt in 1893? by Gerry McGandy


Special thanks to Joyce Cummings and Vic of the Cheltenham Local History Society; without their research in local Cheltenham Newspapers this essay would have been much poorer.

The School of Art collection at Aberystwyth houses eleven landscape prints engraved by Edward John Burrow after drawings by Robert Eustace Tickell. Tickell had them printed in a volume entitled ‘The Vale of Nantgwilt – A Submerged Valley‘ in1894 (Fig. 1). Who were Burrow and Tickell and why did they choose to record these pleasant and picturesque if otherwise unremarkable scenes?

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Karen’s Cabinet of Curiosities March 2017


Curiosity: Japanese netsuke

Created: mid to late 19th century

Artist: Only one of the netsuke has a signature (mei), but I could not find out which carver it belongs to.

Measurements: between 3.5 cm and 4.5 cm in diameter                                                                  Continue reading

International Women’s Day 08th March 2017


Women Artists and the RA – “A somewhat chequered History”   

These days we take it for granted that women artists are members of the Royal Academy of Arts, attend and teach at the RA Schools and/or exhibit at the annual Summer Exhibition. But this was not always the case. This brief introduction, and the following short biographies, will give you a quick overview of the changes the RA underwent before it allowed both male and female artist to take advantage of all the facilities and courses it has on offer.

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St. Valentine’s Day

(Click on the images to enlarge them.)

The origins of St. Valentine’s Day, or of the concept that a St. Valentine is the patron of lovers, are hazy.

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Wilkie Collins’s Armadale

Click on the images to enlarge them.

Wilkie (William) Collins was born on the 08th of January 1824 at 11 New Cavendish Street, St. Marylebone, Middlesex, and died on the 23rd of September 1889 in Wimpole Street, London. The successful author wrote popular, so-called ‘sensation novels’ such as The Woman in White, which was first serialised in Charles Dickens’ magazine All Year Round 1859-60 and then published in book-form in 1860, and The Moonstone which was also at first issued in instalments in All Year Round before being sold in book-form (1868).

Armadale was initially serialised in the Cornhill Magazine between November 1864 and June 1866 before being available in the bookshops. Collins received a generous commission of £5,000 for his story from the proprietor of Cornhill Magazine, George Murray Smith (1824-1901). The Illustrator, painter and wood-engraver George Housman Thomas (1824-1868) created the illustrations.

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Karen’s Cabinet of Curiosities January 2017

Curiosity: Book  jk_belledame_2

Title: La Belle Dame sans Merci (1819)

Author: John Keats

Publisher: The Eragny Press, The Brook, Hammersmith

(Lucien Pissarro and his wife Esther established the private press in 1894.)

Date of Publication: 1906

Measurements: 80 x 110mm

Limited edition: 200 copies on paper and 10 copies on vellum

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‘Richard Doyle’s Bird’s-Eye Views of Society’

This link leads to the Karen Westendorf’s website about the 19th century illustrator Richard Doyle. It is the result of her MA research project back in 2015. The School of Art holds a series of his illustrations, designed for The Cornhill Magazine in 1861/2. (They are not the original drawings but the printed foldouts as they appeared in the magazine.)

Richard Doyle’s Bird’s-Eye View of Society


At Home (example of Richard Doyle’s Bird’s-Eye Views of Society)  

Making Pictures – new lifelong learning course for 2016/17


Jan Vermeer, Allegory of the Art of Painting (detail), oil on canvas, c.1665

Making Pictures: the Tricks of the Trade is a new Lifelong Learning Art History module which provides an opportunity to explore some of the ways pictures have been made from the fifteenth century to the present.

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Work by eminent 19th century Welsh sculptor rediscovered

A missing marble bust by eminent Welsh sculptor Joseph Edwards (1814-1882) has been rediscovered in an under-stairs cupboard in the Old College at Aberystwyth University.

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