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Director of The National Gallery, London to give art lecture on Randolph campus

Sir Nicholas Penny

Sir Nicholas Penny

Sir Nicholas Penny, director of the National Gallery, London (2008-2015), will present the lecture, “The Natural Arch and the Concealed Mask,” Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. The free lecture in Smith Hall Theatre is open to the public.

In his lecture, Penny will trace the fascination that artists have had with rock structures and marble patterns which seem to mimic architectural or sculptural forms or have been taken to be representational pictures. It will be argued that this topic connects with important stands in the history of European ornament and in abstract art.

In addition to the public lecture, Penny will spend several days on Randolph’s campus, meeting with students and faculty, and conducting two special classes for students.

Penny is known around the world as one of the great historians of European painting and sculpture of the Renaissance and after. In fact, this year, the Queen of England recognized his services to the arts by including him in her birthday honors list with the award of a knighthood.

Penny served as director of the National Gallery, London from 2008 until he retired just this August.

Under Penny’s leadership, the National Gallery, London, saw many successes, including major blockbuster exhibitions like Leonardo da Vinci, Painter at the Court of Milan, the gallery’s most popular show ever. He is also credited for steering the country’s acquisition of the two great Titian paintings, Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto, jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland. And during his tenure, the Gallery broke its attendance record, exceeding six million visitors in 2013.

Penny is a prolific writer, and the author of a multitude of books, articles, scholarly catalogues, and critical reviews. Before serving as director of the National Gallery, London, he was the senior curator of sculpture and decorative arts from 2002-08 for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. He has also served as the Andrew W. Mellon Professor at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts and the Clore Curator of Renaissance Painting for 10 years at the National Gallery, London between 1990 and 2000.

He earned his doctorate from the Courtauld Institute.

Randolph College is the only U.S. educational institution with a collaborative relationship with the National Gallery, London. Formed in February 2014, the partnership was designed to create enhanced learning opportunities for Randolph students, faculty, and staff. In addition to lectures by high-level staff members of the National Gallery, London, the collaboration includes a special internship program for Randolph students at the Gallery in London. 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, which opens November 6.

Penny is the second high-level staff member of the National Gallery, London, to visit Randolph as part of the College’s partnership with the National Gallery, London. Last year, the College welcomed Ashok Roy, director of collections.

To read more about his visit and the partnership, please see

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