50th Anniversary Lecture Series

In 2020, the Paul Mellon Centre commemorates its 50th anniversary. As part of its programme for this special year, the Centre is hosting a lecture series that is designed to offer a stimulating range of perspectives on the state of British art and architectural history, and on the subject’s evolution over the past fifty years. To kick off the series, distinguished speakers from different areas of British art history reflect on their own experiences of the field and discuss its wider development during recent decades.

Charles Saumarez Smith: 50 Years of British Art in Museums

The lecture looks at changes in the approach to the study, display and approach of British art in major museums in Great Britain since the establishment of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in 1970, including the National Gallery, Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery. It will include a set of reflections and conclusions about the long-term changes in the ways in which British art history has been studied, not least through major exhibitions.

Griselda Pollock: The Victorian Book I Never Wrote, or Why I Never Became a Specialist on British Art

My question, focussing on my lost studies of British art, concerns the theoretical resources and paradigms that shaped such possibilities for critical thinking with, rather than conventional histories of, the image where class, gender, labour, sexuality and representation were such rich and urgent issues because they concerned the case of British urban and industrial modernity.

Steven Brindle: Architectural History after Summerson

How did Summerson's judgments affect or support the contemporary dismissal of late Georgian and Victorian architecture, and how do these judgments seem today? Has this approach already passed into history – how has the subject developed since – and what can we still learn from Summerson, his great book, and his approach?