Peter Crack - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Peter Crack

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Peter Crack

PhD student

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Thesis title: Justifying the ‘Italian Primitives’: Public Acquisitions in Twentieth-Century Britain

Supervised by Dr Scott Nethersole, Dr Susanna Avery-Quash and formerly by Dr Giles Waterfield

Funded by the Guilford Foundation Scholarship and Robert Postgraduate Studentship

Public collecting in Britain has been described as ‘a fantastically random business’. This is particularly true of gifts and bequests, which museums have typically relied upon as a means to expand. Arguably less haphazard, however, were those accessions funded through the public and private purse.

The last century was a period of transition and redefinition for Britain’s art museums. Faced with limited resources, laissez-fair cultural politics and an ill-defined duty to embody both national and local identities, galleries throughout the nation nevertheless sought to increase their holdings of artworks from the so-called ‘Italian primitives’ to the dawn of the ‘High Renaissance’. By examining how these acquisitions were targeted, justified and achieved, this thesis aims to contribute to the fields of museum studies and the reception of early Italian art in twentieth-century Britain.

Research interests

  • Early Italian painting
  • museum studies
  • the history of collecting
  • the reception of Medieval and Italian Renaissance art in twentieth-century Britain
  • Italian works on paper 1400-1850

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