|Royal Scottish Academy staff visit Washington and Paris to showcase treasured object from the RSA collection.|
|Royal Scottish Academy staff visit Washington and Paris to showcase treasured object from the RSA collection.
In September last year, an object from the RSA collections began a distinguished international journey, its travels have transported it to some of the most well known and revered institutions in the world.
Cardinal Beaton's House by Thomas Keith - a salted paper photographic print, contained within an album of similar commendable works by, amongst others, David Octavius Hill RSA, Robert Adamson and Archibald Burns - is the work in question. The image depicts a view of the Cardinal’s house, which has since been demolished, at the foot of Blackfriars Wynd (now Blackfriars Street), as it meets the Cowgate. The album was gifted to the RSA in 1931 by Sir Edmund Findlay Bart, from the collection of his late father, Sir John Ritchie Findlay Bart, proprietor of The Scotsman newspaper and benefactor of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. It had earlier resided in the collection of the painter James Drummond, himself a member of the Royal Scottish Academy. The object is therefore not only of great artistic significance but its provenance gives it a noteworthy presence in Scottish social history.
The album is currently on display at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris; having already toured to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and then the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The exhibition, Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860, focuses on the art of the British calotype, a pioneering technique of early photography that allowed multiple prints to be made from the one negative. It has since been recognised as the foundation for all photography that succeeded it.
The MET recorded nearly 75,000 visitors to the exhibition, which received numerous favourable reviews. A large amount of the works on show had never been seen in the United States before and so their presence was emphatically received. The RSA's album featured prominently in each venue, taking pride of place in the gallery space, surrounded by prominent works from the likes of William Henry Fox Talbot, John Muir Wood, Thomas Sutton and Horatio Ross. On their visit to the RSA stores to see the album, the curators of Impressed by Light had expressed their amazement at the quality and preservation of the works inside and this showed in the importance it was afforded within the display.
Two lucky members of staff from the collections department, Sandy Wood and Nicola Ireland, were given the chance to visit Washington and Paris respectively, to assess the condition of the album and oversee its installation. The international aspect of this partnership has given fresh emphasis to the value and importance of the RSA's collections in both a Scottish and wider global context, and allowed unprecedented access to one of its finest items.
The album will be on display in the exhibition L'image Révélée 1840-1860 at the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, until 7 September 2008.
For further information or images please contact:
Kirsty Dickson, Press Assistant, Royal Scottish Academy, The Mound, Edinburgh
T 0131 225 6671 W email@example.com
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