00:00
/
00:00

Accordion Panels

Quisque venenatis blandit

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Quisque venenatis blandit urna, ac tempor elit consectetur scelerisque. Suspendisse dignissim felis id erat congue, ac tincidunt elit imperdiet. Phasellus ligula mauris, tempus vel quam et, aliquam consectetur nisl.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet

Quisque venenatis blandit urna, ac tempor elit consectetur scelerisque. Suspendisse dignissim felis id erat congue, ac tincidunt elit imperdiet. Phasellus ligula mauris, tempus vel quam et, aliquam consectetur nisl.

Phasellus ligula mauris

Quisque venenatis blandit urna, ac tempor elit consectetur scelerisque. Suspendisse dignissim felis id erat congue, ac tincidunt elit imperdiet.

Quisque venenatis

Quisque venenatis blandit urna, ac tempor elit consectetur scelerisque. Suspendisse dignissim felis id erat congue, ac tincidunt elit imperdiet.

Suspendisse dignissim felis id erat congue, ac tincidunt elit imperdiet.

Quisque venenatis blandit urna, ac tempor elit consectetur scelerisque. Suspendisse dignissim felis id erat congue, ac tincidunt elit imperdiet.

Help Listening

Play Online

  1. Use the links on this page to choose which track you would like to listen to
  2. Press the “Play” button to begin

Listen In-Gallery

  1. Visit agnes.queensu.ca/digital-agnes
  2. Select the audio track you would like to listen to and press “Play”
    Listening to this content will require a Wi-Fi connection or a data plan.
    Some charges may apply, please consult your mobile provider)

Other Ways to Listen

Tap or click on “Transcript” under each track to read or download the full transcript of each audio commentary.

Audio Playlist

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Quisque venenatis blandit urna, ac tempor elit consectetur scelerisque. Suspendisse dignissim felis id erat congue, ac tincidunt elit imperdiet. Phasellus ligula mauris, tempus vel quam et, aliquam consectetur nisl.

Artistic Connections
Dr Stephanie Dickey, Professor and Bader Chair in Northern Baroque Art, Department of Art History and Art Conservation, Queen’s University
00:00

Transcript

Artistic Connections
Dr Stephanie Dickey, Professor and Bader Chair in Northern Baroque Art, Department of Art History and Art Conservation, Queen’s University

>> Of the three Godfrey Kneller paintings on view in the exhibition, this is the only painting from his earlier period, and that shows a strong connection to the Dutch masters, Rembrandt van Rijn and Ferdinand Bol. Stephanie Dickey, Queen’s Professor and Bader Chair in Northern European Baroque Art, explains.

>> Very little is known about Kneller’s early period. We know he was born in Lubeck in Germany. And he first went to the Netherlands to study mathematics at the University of Leiden, probably intending some kind of a career in something like military engineering. But like many artists do, discovered that their real passion was art. So, in the case of Kneller, in 1662, he left Leiden and went to Amsterdam to study art. And there are different sources from the early period that describe what happened. Some say he worked with Ferdinand Bol. Some say Rembrandt. But by 1662, Rembrandt was in the last stages of his career. And I honestly don’t think he was taking in students who still needed to learn the nuts and bolts. So, it seems to be more likely that he either only worked with Ferdinand Bol, or he started with Bol and then maybe spent a period of time with Rembrandt.

>> Kneller’s Dutch art training with Bol and Rembrandt gave him the skills necessary to masterfully convey his subject’s through art. Bol embraced Rembrandt’s style, and he encouraged Kneller to follow a similar artistic path. The influences of Rembrandt and Bol are seen in the use of colour and handling of paint in Kneller’s A Scholar in His Study.

>> Well, if you think of paintings like ours, the clearest connections are the rich Earthy colours, very warm, ready colour scheme, and strong dramatic effects of light. And those are things that both of them learnt from Rembrandt. You can see Rembrandt’s impact also in some of the painterly touches, for example, in our painting, the gold brocade along the edge of the curtain has a really textural effect, thick paint treated in an almost sculptural way. That’s something that Rembrandt did. That’s something that he taught his students to do, including Bol, and including Kneller. In our painting particularly, the golden robe that the figure is wearing, a very similar robe can be seen in a number of paintings by Kneller, depicting scholarly figures, including one in the National Gallery in London. And the interest in these scholarly figures is also something that they share. It’s mysterious who this figure is exactly meant to be. The costume and the hairstyle are not typical of what a scholar, in contemporary terms, would have been wearing in the 1660s. So, it’s likely that Kneller is trying to make him look like a historical character. He has a large book, kind of dog eared book. He as a globe, which doesn’t necessarily identify him as a geographer. Globes were a mark of learning in generic terms for scholars. Every scholar worth his salt owned a pair of globes in those days, a celestial and a terrestrial globe. You had to have those in your study if you were a scholar of any note. We could also mention that Kneller’s style changed quite radically when he moved to England. He stopped painting in that very textural way. And his colour scheme also changed quite a lot. He pretty much transformed himself into a portraitist. And when he did that, he was deeply impacted by the work of the Flemish painter, Anthony van Dyck, who had also come from the Netherlands to England, but a generation earlier, and had worked for the Court of Charles I. Van Dyck’s impact in England was profound. You can see his impact in English portraits right through to the 18th century to people like Reynolds and Gainsborough. Tastes were changing. Rembrandt’s style was really becoming old fashioned. And a lot of the younger consumers of art wanted something that was more suave and more dignified. And so he really gave them what they wanted.

Sandra Brewster’s Blur (2019)
Sunny Kerr, Curator of Contemporary Art
00:00

Transcript

Sandra Brewster’s Blur (2019)
Sunny Kerr, Curator of Contemporary Art

>> Hi, there. My name is Sunny Kerr. I’m curator of contemporary art at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. And we are here in the Agnes Atrium to talk about a new installation by Canadian artist, Sandra Brewster, called Blur. And Blur is, first and foremost, a bold statement regarding black Canadians, black Kingstonians, almost as if it’s saying, “We are here.” Really asserting a kind of presence of black people in our communities. And this is important because we live in a climate that can be sympathetic to a kind of postracialist idea, a post-racialism idea wherein it’s almost as if normative cultures, white centred mainstream cultures, are saying racism is historical. We’re not racist. But at the same time, one often hears broad assumptions or one makes oneself broad assumptions like, you know, Kingston is so white — Canada is so white, which enacts a certain kind of erasure of racialized peoples and black Canadians, particularly. And so with this work, especially through her material choices, Sandra Brewster is making this kind of strong assertion at the same time that it’s — it has many layers of complexity. So at the same time that it’s making this bold assertion, it is also doing it in a complex way that, I think, eschews the politics of tokenism, and makes more complex the, kind of, demand for multicultural representation. And I think, through her material choices, Sandra Brewster is also — one of the keys to the work is that certain things are always kept hidden. So essentially, the work is images of three black community members from Kingston. One of them, of course, appears twice. There are four figures, as you can see here. Brewster is depicting them here in blurred motion. And in — and that’s the way in which she really gets at a kind of transitional state at the same time as there’s this, kind of, sticking to or presence, there’s also a sense of movement and transition within. Really influenced, I think, by Sandra Brewster’s own heritage. Her — the legacy of her own parents’ migration to Canada from Guyana in the 1960s. And it’s through precisely the — the material process, which is a gel transfer process. Ink is printed right onto the walls in a quite unpredictable and labour intensive process. And — and through this they come to look almost like old, worn photographs because of the kind of tearing, creasing, and folding that happens during the gel transfer process. I should say, finally, that the installation was also designed as a commission for the collection, whereby Sandra Brewster visited Kingston and, through an open call, photographed members of Kingston’s black community and made these new works, one of which will be entering the Agnes collection and then can be remounted at — at this scale in the future.

Evidence Based Looking
Natasa Krsmanovic, Conservator, Rare Books and Special Collections, University Archives, Queen’s University
00:00

Transcript

Evidence Based Looking
Natasa Krsmanovic, Conservator, Rare Books and Special Collections, University Archives, Queen’s University

>> In the 17th century, the Dutch Republic was a land teeming with scholars and books, yet because so few of the books in circulation from this time have survived, conservators have looked to artworks to find evidence of them. Books have an important place in Godfrey Kneller’s A Scholar in His Study, and they offer insights into the display of books and bookbinding practices of the time. Natasa Krsmanovic, the conservator at the W.D. Jordan Rare Books and Special Collections Library here at Queen’s tells us more.

>> When an object like a 17th-century book enters a museum, it has artifactual value, and so that’s what I find so compelling about these kinds of portraits. It’s interesting to see how the book-as-object is depicted, and often artists are so meticulous in terms of the details that they want to capture within a painting that we can do a lot of evidence-based looking to try and find aspects of techniques or details used in the book-binding trade within these items. One of the things that we might notice in the painting are actually how the books are stored on the shelf, for example. We think of the spine out as commonplace now in terms of the way that we store these materials, but actually within the painting, you can see that the fore-edge is what’s facing out towards the audience. This was a very common way of displaying 16th- and 17th-century books. You can also see that the books that are displayed on the shelves have clasps whereas the book that’s displayed in the foreground has these what are either leather or alum-tawed or maybe vellum tongs that come out, which would have been used as kind of ties for the book, so it’s really interesting to see how maybe working copies of books are depicted. So, a book that has a leather cover and gold decorative tooling would line, you know, the walls of your study, but these were probably books that you wouldn’t be breaking the spines of and laying flat and working with, and so they were beautifully ornate, and so they would be placed kind of on display, whereas the books that you’re kind of seeing in the foreground, you can see how they’re draping, they’re limp, and so the book boards aren’t hard. They’re actually quite soft, and that’s more indicative of potentially like a soft leather, a soft vellum, a soft paper cover. It’s really hard to find examples of books that have these kind of soft paper covers because books have such a longstanding history of being re-bound, and so we don’t have a lot of historic evidence in terms of some of these early binding structures, because they just either haven’t survived, or the tradition of re-binding was so prolific that we don’t have very many examples.

Button Block

Content Grid Listing

Feature Item

Featured / Related Objects

Footnotes
Image Credits
Queen’s University
36 University Avenue
Kingston, Ontario
Canada K7L 3N6
T (613) 533.2190
F (613) 533.6765
aeac@queensu.ca
Agnes Etherington Art Centre is situated on traditional Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee Territory.

Anishinaabemowin (Ojibway): Gimaakwe Gchi-gkinoomaagegamig atemagad Naadowe miinwaa Anishinaabe aking.

Kanyen’keha (Mohawk): Ne Agnes Etherington Art Centre e’tho nońwe nikanónhsote tsi nońwe ne Haudenasaunee tánon Anishinaabek tehatihsnónhsahere ne óhontsa.
© Agnes Etherington Art Centre 2020

Subscribe to our “This Week at Agnes” e-newsletter to stay abreast of events, news and opportunities at the art museum.