Charles Saumarez Smith's new book

May 3 2017

Image of Charles Saumarez Smith's new book

Picture: John Sandoe

Regular readers will know that AHN is an admirer of all things Charles Saumarez Smith, and in particular his blog. I mentioned before that it is being turned into a book, and you can now order a copy here, should you be tempted. I am. Also, in the Evening Standard yesterday I chanced upon an interview with him, in which he reflects on his time at the National Gallery:

At the National Gallery, where Saumarez Smith became director in 2002, there were further triumphs, including the saving for the nation of Raphael’s Madonna of the Pinks. But there were signs of dissent among the staff and, in 2007, Saumarez Smith announced he was moving to the RA. What happened?

“Well, at the National Gallery there’s a tradition that the director is a sort of super-curator, above all other curators. I’m not that and never pretended to be. I felt the curators looked down on me because I hadn’t been to the Courtauld; I’d merely been to the Warburg, which was a kind of lesser place. I was, in inverted commas, a cultural historian. So I was made to feel not very comfortable.”

There's a saying in academia that the politics are so brutal because the stakes are so small. I think you can say the same about museums. 

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