• 26 to 27 March 2009
  • 9:00 – 5:30 pm
  • Public Study Room, Paul Mellon Centre

The conference will address issues arising from the exhibition ‘The Intimate Portrait: Drawings, Miniatures and Pastels from Ramsay to Lawrence’ (Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, 25 October 2008 to 1 February 2009; the British Museum, Prints and Drawings Gallery, London, 5 March to 31 May 2009). Organized jointly by the National Galleries of Scotland and the British Museum and drawn from their collections, this is the first major exhibition in Britain to focus on this little- studied genre. The intimate portrait played a much greater role than might be expected at a time when visual culture was dominated by the very public art of painted and sculpted portraiture. In domestic spaces such as sitting rooms, studies, bedrooms and closets, smaller portraits on paper and ivory were at the heart of a more private conversation. But portrait drawings, miniatures and pastels also had a role in the public sphere, shown in vast numbers at the Royal Academy, often contentiously in the same rooms as the oils.

The conference will begin with an evening walk through the exhibition led by the curators, Kim Sloan, Curator of British Drawings and Watercolours before 1880 at the British Museum, and Stephen Lloyd, Senior Curator at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, followed by a reception at the Paul Mellon Centre. On the following day, conference speakers will raise questions of intimate vision, the intimate portrait and the erotic, methods, media, commissioning and display, and the late 19th-century international art-market revival for this type of portraiture.