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Former National Gallery, London director visits Randolph campus

Sir Nicholas Penny presents the public lecture "The Natural Arch and the Concealed Mask."

Sir Nicholas Penny presents the public lecture “The Natural Arch and the Concealed Mask.”

Sir Nicholas Penny, former director of The National Gallery, London, visited Randolph College this week as part of the College’s partnership with the National Gallery, London.

Penny, who recently retired from his post at the National Gallery, London in August, arrived in Lynchburg on Tuesday afternoon. While on campus, he met with students, faculty, and staff, toured the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College, and delivered two classroom presentations and a public lecture.

He delivered his first classroom presentation, “Six Different Types of Art History,” in Andrea Campbell’s Art 101 class. In this presentation, Penny discussed art and its religious functions as well as some of the less obvious forms of art, such as finely crafted clothing and handwriting.

“A signature tells you who someone is,” he said. “It comes from the idea of having a seal, which is when you sign or make your own mark on something. It’s your own personal brand.”

Sir Nicholas Penny tours the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College with its director, Martha Johnson.

Sir Nicholas Penny tours the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College with its director, Martha Johnson.

On Thursday, Penny spoke to a class studying Venice and the Renaissance about Giorgione and early Titian work. In this presentation, Penny examined the use of focal points, techniques, and careful attention to detail in six paintings by Italian Renaissance artists.

On Thursday evening, Penny delivered the public lecture, “The Natural Arch and the Concealed Mask,” in Smith Hall Theatre. During this discussion, he pointed out the use of grottoes, marble patterns, natural arches, and the combination of various types and shades of rocks in various pieces of art.

“This lecture zigzags over many related topics,” he said. “But if there’s one thing that I think you should take away from it, it is that one of the most important themes of 20th century art is the metamorphic imagery in dream landscapes.”

Penny was also able to tour Lynchburg and visit several important spots during his visit. He most admired the architecture of the historic buildings in the area, particularly the brick patterns of Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest and the Queen Anne style of Main Hall on the Randolph campus.

Sir Nicholas Penny discusses "Giorgione and Early Titian" paintings with the Venice and the Renaissance art class.

Sir Nicholas Penny discusses “Giorgione and Early Titian” paintings with the Venice and the Renaissance art class.

Visits by high-level staff members of the National Gallery, London are an important of Randolph’s partnership with the National Gallery, London. Last year, Ashok Roy, director of collections, came to Randolph to meet with students and faculty and to offer a public lecture.

Formed in February 2014, the partnership was designed to create enhanced learning opportunities for Randolph students, faculty, and staff. The collaboration also includes a special internship program for Randolph students at the Gallery in London. Randolph is the only U.S. educational institution with a collaborative relationship with the gallery.

The partnership also made possible a new exhibition at the Maier Museum of Art Randolph College. Venetian Visions: Selections from the National Gallery in London, opens November 6, and will feature artwork on loan from the National Gallery, London.



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