Postgraduate Seminar
21st October 2000
Seminar Room
Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

To accompany the exhibition Return to Life: A New Look at the Portrait Bust, an opportunity for PhD students and junior scholars to meet and address new research on portraiture.

Session 1: Blindness and Vision
Chaired by Aileen Dawson (The British Museum)

Catharine Tite (University of Manchester)
‘Each virtue beaming from her eye’: Visuality, Virtue and Portraits of the Elite Family in England 1760-1770
Dealing with a group of paintings exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1767 and using Hal Foster’s notion of ‘visuality’, Catharine considered the effect of exhibiting works of different genre in close proximity to one another, and provided a fitting reminder of the socio-political implications of ‘hanging the head’.

Hannelore Hägele (Wolfson College, Cambridge)
The Unengaged Eye: Views on Monochrome Busts
Although her title and abstract suggested a psychoanalytic reading of the portrait bust, her paper took a more formalist approach. She addressed the physicality of marble and terracotta as media and made comparison between busts that included sculptural definitions of the eyes and those which remained blank or relied on polychromy to become ‘engaged’.

Session 2: Nations and Skin
Chaired by Shearer West (Barber Institute, University of Birmingham)

Charmaine Nelson (University of Manchester)
White Marble, Black Bodies and the Fear of the Invisible Negro: Signifying Blackness in Mid-19th century Neoclassical Sculpture
The subsequent discussion included a consideration of the availability and cost of marble of differing hues.

Stuart Burch (Nottingham Trent University)
‘A noble and imperishable record’: the Sculpted Portrait and National Identity in 19th century Britain
Stuart addressed public commemorative statuary and ended on a fittingly contemporary note, referring to Martin Parr’s recent collection of photographs, ‘Think of England’.