Encouraging news at Tate Britain

December 31 2012

Image of Encouraging news at Tate Britain

Picture: BG

After all the hoo-hah about Tate Britain's mercurial hang (as questioned by me, and lambasted by The Burlington Magazine), a reader writes:

Tate Britain have re-hung their historical British collection and it looks much, much better.

Intrigued, I ambled along this morning, and the new layout [above] is indeed a great improvement. Whether it was long-planned, or done in response to The Burlington's attack, I don't know. But it's nearly as good as it used to be, which I suppose we must be grateful for, given Tate Britain's recent identity crisis. At least students wanting an overview of British art history won't now have to wait till the main renovations are complete in 2014 (when, incidentally, there will still be less space for the 'historical collection' than there used to be).

My reader also wrote with encouraging conservation news:

Some work has been done on their Tudor portraits:

A blank fillet has been added to the right of this Eworth to restore it to its original proportions.

This intriguing work [of William, 1st Lord De La Warr] has been cleaned.

And there are lots of other goodies. Bryce McMurdo [by Raeburn] comes up from storage amongst  them – which reminds me that this was displayed as part of the National Gallery’s selection of British paintings until the 1960s.

I saw also that John Michael Wright's Portrait of Sir Neil O'Neill has also been restored, and looks marvellous. I was lucky enough to be shown the picture when it was in the conservation studio, where, in its stripped down state, it looked a little scary. Rica Jones, who restored the picture, has pulled it together brilliantly.  

Another picture worth noting, which I don't think has been on display before, is the below Portrait of Jonathan Richardson the Younger by his father, Jonathan Richardson, which was purchased in 2010 from Philip Mould.

Update - a reader writes:

Regarding the Tate's rehanging of the British Collection, did you happen to notice whether poor Judith Dobson (William's missus) had found a better position than previously? I went especially to see her, and found her high up a wall (too high for my short 5'3" to see properly), obscured by the reflection of a badly-placed light, and next to a doorway through which you couldn't help but be blinded by some ghastly 'flashing chandalier' installation. I've not been back since - will stick to the NPG in future!!

It was indeed in a woeful place, utterly unseeable. I don't recall seeing it on my most recent visit though, so perhaps it has gone back into storage.

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