History and Mystery showcases the best of the NCMA’s permanent collection of Old Master British paintings and sculpture from 1580 to 1850.
This exhibition is anchored by an extraordinary group of nine Elizabethan and Jacobean aristocratic portraits from about 1580 to 1620 that has been the focus of an ongoing research project involving the NCMA Conservation and Curatorial departments and students and faculty from UNC–Chapel Hill and Duke. The exhibition also provides the opportunity to reexamine familiar favorites in the collection from new perspectives and to display a few “hidden treasures” that have rarely—or never before—been on public view.
History and Mystery is one in a series of permanent collection focus exhibitions highlighting the work of the NCMA's Conservation Department.
Organized by the North Carolina Museum of Art. This exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. Research for this exhibition was made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.
This seminar offers participants a chance to hear experts on the Tudor era discuss changing conceptions of aristocracy and power on display in the Tudor and Jacobean portraits that are the focus of the History and Mystery exhibition. They will also learn how art conservators use technology and artistic skill to preserve the paintings and reveal secrets of their creation and history.
Presented in collaboration with the UNC–CH Program in the Humanities and the UNC–CH Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Speakers include Maurice Howard (University of Sussex, UK), Tatiana C. String and Marcus Bull (UNC–CH), and Perry Hurt (NCMA).
Polonius observed in Hamlet that “the apparel oft proclaims the man,” summing up the idea that clothing can reflect the age, wealth, status, gender, and taste of the wearer. With these thoughts in mind, this talk examines the clothing worn in nine Elizabethan and Jacobean portraits in the History and Mystery exhibition: two of known sitters and seven, as yet, unidentified. Reception follows the lecture.
Tatiana C. String, Associate Professor of Art History, UNC–Chapel Hill
The Golden Age of Queen Elizabeth I, William Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Raleigh produced some of the most compelling works of literature, music, and visual art in English history. This illustrated talk explores that moment in English art and sets in context the portraits in the History and Mystery exhibition. Lecture followed by docent-led tours of the exhibition.
Our NCMA Elizabethans and Jacobeans certainly dressed to impress. Lace, silk, real gold thread embroidery, jewelry, and extravagant hair—men’s fashion rivaled that of the women. Clothes proclaimed a person’s status, education, occupation, and family or political allegiance. A close look at the fashion in our portraits speaks volumes about our lords and ladies. Illustrated lecture followed by docent-led tours of History and Mystery.
These events, designed for members age 40 and over, feature a lecture and walking tour, followed by a buffet-style dinner with a glass of wine. Advance registration is required.
Come meet nine aristocratic portraits that have been thoroughly studied by students and faculty from UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke and our own Conservation and Curatorial staff. Each one has a story to tell as conservator Perry Hurt reveals the history and mystery of these Old Master British paintings.
Although the primary focus of the History and Mystery exhibition is the Museum’s collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean portraits, our later British works (some on view for the first time in decades, or ever) have their own stories to tell. Curator David Steel relates some of their histories and mysteries.
The NCMA’s early British portraits all came with ancient Scott family names and inscriptions (History!). Our research shows that nearly all the old traditional identifications are wrong. Time has played the shell game with our paintings, shuffling names and faces, leaving us to wonder: Who the heck are these people? (Mystery!) Follow our research trail to see how we’ve attempted to unravel this puzzle.
Learn about the fascinating lives of the people depicted in the grand English portraits featured in History and Mystery. Who did they know; how did they live? Then, in the studio, explore facial and body proportions in a drawing workshop. Register by Thursday, November 10.
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