Home' Art and Australia : Vol 29 No 4 Winter 1992 Contents luhan,modellcdr,}Gu'"..ppeGneel,Re.IS3r,r,ncad,
C3podlmome , Napl~, Flgu,e Goffredo mourning at the
tomb or Dudone, I H5-50, porcelaIn, 32 x 28 em, Naw",,,]
GalieryoFV,cton a, Mel hournt Fdtonlkqu,",1 1991
Rlglu hall.. n (Urbmo) b), Frar.:;e5<:o X,mho A,'dh,
1'I.,e Vulcan . Venus and Cup,d,c. 1528, e3nhenw" e ,
NalLonal Ga ll ef)-' of V,,(on., Mdbou me
I'm thmkmg, for example, of Japanese
and Chmese calligraphy and painting,
ASian ceramics generally, Japanese pnnts
Asian art IS o ne field where, If you are per-
you can buy so far ahead of the
that trustees are sometimes a bit
concerned that things coming in at suc h
low cost ca n't be as good as we're saying
I suppose one example of llwt was the
Rajas/han mmiatures which I think Dr Holf
purchased In 1980
Yes, and there are opportunities to buy as
well as that in
areas of the collection.
Take, for example,
group . [t IS an object of the very highest
qualuy. Instead of buying twenty ceramics
dunng the yea r for the same money we
pounced on this single great work
Remember that the NGV hasn't spent
largely on the international market since
the 19405 . It's not high on anybody's list of
priorities when they have an for sale
But it us ed to be. In the 1920s and I930s.
And immediately post-War. And in those
years many things of only average quality
came in to the collec tion .
Suppose a number of your curators argue
strongly for the purchase of a hey objeC/ Jor
their coUeaio n. How is a priority eS!ablished,
give n that very liu!e can be purchased? Is one
curatorial depanment seen as more needy
1 haven't been swamped by curators pre-
senting magnificent matenal for acquisi-
lion , mainly because the Gallery does not
have the comracts. Umil recently, staff of
the Gallery were not allowed to travel over-
seas. Its still difficulL to get permission for
them to stay over when on courier trips
paid for by other institutions. Unless staff
can regularly search the market, dealers for-
get about us
\.Vhat about advisrrs srationed oversea s.
such as the Felton Bequest advisers? Can you
sti!! rely on that hind oj advice?
The Felton Bequest advisers were impor-
tant in the days when there was no cu Ito.
rial expertise here . Today they· are m tnl)'
used for opinions on things that cur tors
have found. They aTe no longer pa l to
search out pOl e nllal acquisitions
Much oj the Egyptian collection. for e' .:Im·
pie, came into being thmugh thI S GaUer) m·
volvemenl with archaeological digs
Most of that matenal was gl\'en to u be.
cause the Gallery su pported the r :ypt
Exploration Fund and the British Sch( l of
Archaeology in Egypt. The Egyptian c( lee
tion here containS three or four thm ,; of
real consequence and the rest is 51 1pl}'
So whal do you do with a coUcetim Jikt
Until we have a curator of Antiquitit
can't do anything at all
Yes, yes. [ believe that any depanmf tin
which purchases haven't been made )r a
number of years is a dying departl em
There's been no curator of metalwork me
for untold years, nothing has been Ju r
chased in this area, its fallow ground.
This raises an interesting question I lOut
curaLOrial departments . Do you stW ha ' an
overaU belief in medium -s pedfic curaton , ae·
century glass . There are career
nationally for somebody
give ] re
sponsibility for an a n historical penod who
might specialize in one medium, but (- ver
see all other media of that period . S ll , In
due course I would li ke to see a stru( tuft
here where people look after penods from
Annquity to Roman esque, the Renai s5,mct
through to the eighteenth-century, "l gh
teenth· and nineteenth-ce ntury an d Iwen-
tieth -ce ntury.
Does thai mean, Jor exa mple, in yo ur
Renaissance to elghleenlh- ce nrury peri od, rhat
iJ the (Ura(Or has a par-ticular murest in pllin/'
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