This symposium is devoted to a group of important European old master paintings and drawings from the Beit Collection at Russborough House, Co Wicklow, which have gained recent notoriety due to attempts to dispose of them through public or private sale abroad, or through other means. They include works by artists of the calibre of François Boucher, Francesco Guardi, Adriaen van Ostade, Rubens, Jacob van Ruisdael, and David Teniers - and as such have an especial rarity in Ireland. Some have been saved for the nation thanks to the efforts of private philanthropy, others have now left the country, and some, including works by Gainsborough and Bellotto, remain largely hidden from public view, their fate unsure.
The aim of this symposium is to refocus scholarly expertise on the composition and development of the Beit collection, and the art historical significance of certain standout items. At the same time, this event will not ignore recent controversies surrounding the collection’s dispersal, and it offers the chance to celebrate what has been saved for the nation, lament what has been lost, and draw attention to those works which deserve further public and scholarly notice.
Session 1 - 10:30-11:45
- Francesco Guardi in (and out) of Ireland
Philip Cottrell, UCD School of Art History & Cultural Policy
- Russborough: The Happy Exception?
Ciarán Woods, art historian
- Public Policy and Private Interests: Lessons of the Beit Paintings Controversy
Pat Cooke, UCD School of Art History & Cultural Policy
(11:45-12:00 - break for coffee - provided)
Session 2 - 12:00-13:15
- Symbols of the Enlightenment or ‘Non-Core Assets’: The Laboratory and Library of Joseph Bonnier de la Mosson by Jacques de Lajoue
William Laffan, art dealer and art historian
- Two Male Heads and One Mythological Study: What they Reveal about the Art of Sir Peter Paul Rubens
Fiona Healy, Rubenianum - The Research Institute for Flemish Art of the 16th and 17th Centuries, Antwerp
- François Boucher chez Monsieur Beit: Naked Ladies and Rococo Drawings in Irish Collections
Jane MacAvock, Ecole du Louvre, Paris
(13:15–14:00 – break for lunch - not provided)
Session 3 - 14:00-15:15/30
- Thomas Gainsborough’s Giovanna Baccelli - a Dancer Immortalized
Adrian Le Harivel, National Gallery of Ireland
- What Sir Alfred Sold: Disposals from the Historic Beit Collection, c.1950-70
John Loughman, UCD School of Art History & Cultural Policy