• 5 June 2018
  • 12:30 – 2:00 pm
  • Seminar Room, Paul Mellon Centre

Fellows Lunch: Curator Series event by Dr Jacqueline Riding, consultant, author and independant scholar.

This talk will cover the development, organisation and staging of the recent exhibition Basic Instincts at the Foundling Museum (29 September 2017 - 7 January 2018), and the creation of the accompany publication Basic Instincts: Love, Passion and Violence in the Art of Joseph Highmore (Paul Holberton Publishing, 2017), both of which were recipients of Paul Mellon Centre grants. Basic Instincts was the first major exhibition, since 1963, to focus on the important British painter Joseph Highmore (1692-1780) and the publication is the only book currently available on the artist and his work.

At the heart of both is the small oil on canvas known as The Angel of Mercy (Yale Center for British Art) painted around 1746, which is one of the most original and controversial images in eighteenth-century British art. It depicts a woman in fashionable mid-eighteenth century dress strangling the infant lying on her lap. A cloaked figure cowers to the right as an angel intervenes, pointing towards the Foundling Hospital, the recently opened refuge for new borns at risk of abandonment, in the distance. The image attempts to address, through a combination of representation and symbolism, one of, if not the most disturbing aspects of the Hospital's story: certainly a subject that many (now as then) would consider beyond depiction.

The curator and author Dr Jacqueline Riding will also explore the challenges of transforming her Doctoral Thesis (University of York 2012) into an exhibition and book, including the presentation of a largely unknown artist to the general public and the opportunities for publishing on artists outside the traditional canon.

The Fellows Lunch: Curator Series is a set of four free lunchtime research talks given by recipients of Paul Mellon Centre Curatorial Research Grants. All are welcome but please book a ticket in advance.

About the speaker

  • Dr Jacqueline Riding is a consultant, author and independent scholar. Former Assistant Curator of the Palace of Westminster and Director of the Handel House Museum, she was the historical adviser on Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner (2014) and Peterloo (2018), and Wash Westmoreland's Colette (2018). She is the author of Jacobites: A New History of the ’45 Rebellion (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2016), Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre (Head of Zeus, 2018) and the forthcoming biography of William Hogarth (Head of Zeus, 2020). She has published widely on Joseph Highmore and early-Georgian art including "From Bosworth Field to Finchley Common: Britain, Hogarth and the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion" in S. Parissien ed., Celebrating Britain: Canaletto, Hogarth and Patriotism (Paul Holberton Publishing, 2015), ‘Artistic connections between Dublin and London in the early-Georgian period: James Latham and Joseph Highmore’ in Caroline Pegum, Brendan Rooney eds., Irish Fine Art in the Early Modern Period (Irish Academic Press, 2016), "A Session of Painters': Succession, Legacy and the prospects for British portraiture after Sir Godfrey Kneller’ in M. Hallett, M. Myrone eds, Court, Country, City: British Art & Architecture 1660-1735 (Paul MellonCentre/Yale, 2016) and ‘‘His little hour of royalty”: The Stuart Court at Holyroodhouse in 1745’ in David Forsyth ed., Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites (National Museums Scotland, 2017). Jacqueline is an Honorary Research Fellow of the School of Arts, Birkbeck College, Trustee of Turner's House Trust and the Jacobite Studies Trust, and committee member of the Society for Court Studies.