Archive for the ‘National Trust Collections’ Category

Testing your eye on the Van Dycks

January 3, 2012

Anne Boteler, Countess of Newport, by Sir Anthony van Dyck, at Petworth House. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

Paintings expert Bendor Grosvenor has been perusing our new online National Trust Collections database (which I first posted about here), testing his eye on various ‘school of’ and ‘attributed to’ portraits. He has reported his hunches on his Art History News blog.

An unknown Genoese lady, attributed to Sir Anthony Van Dyck, at Petworth House. ©National Trust/Andrew Fetherston

For instance, he thinks that this portrait of a lady at Petworth, attributed to Van Dyck, really is by the artist himself, done in the mid 1620s in Italy.

Henry, Baron Percy of Alnwick, by Sir Anthony van Dyck, at Petworth House. ©NTPL/Matthew Hollow

This kind of response is really encouraging. It means people are now starting to use the National Trust Collections site for research and comparison. The site itself (and the National Trust’s curatorial records) will also benefit from these responses, as more information comes to light and opinions are exchanged.

Catherine Bruce, Mrs Murray, later Countess of Dysart, by Sir Anthony van Dyck, at Petworth House. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

Once again we see the potential of crowd sourcing – which, in the slightly rarified area of old master paintings expertise, should perhaps be called in-crowd sourcing (but an in-crowd accessible to all).

Thomas Wentworth, 1st Earl of Strafford, by Sir Anthony van Dyck, at Petworth House. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

As it happens, the Economist newspaper featured an article in its most recent issue about a related development in a ‘parallel universe’ to art history: the effect of blogging and social media in spreading ideas and discussions from the academic world of economics into the wider business and policy environment.

Henry Percy, 9th Earl of Northumberland (the 'wizard earl'), painted posthumously as a philosopher, at Petworth House. ©NTPL/Derrick E. Witty

So do have a look yourself on National Trust Collections, search for objects that fall within your professional expertise or private obsession, and let me know if you, too, can spot any ‘sleepers’.