Discovering global connections of a drawing from the University of Melbourne collection

There is more to the drawing which is described as ‘Adoration’, in the University of Melbourne’s print collection, than first meets the eye. This monochrome drawing on blue paper depicts a common theme in medieval and Renaissance art: Mary and infant Jesus. On the mat of the work, an artist’s name and date is neatly written, as well as the name of the collection that the drawing comes from (The John Lane Collection). I thought that my research would be simple because of the common iconography and as the name of the artist and collection appeared to be known but, I was pleasantly surprised. I will explain my reasoning for thinking that this work may fit into a rich collection of drawings all done by the same artist as preparation for a large oil painting.

Attributed to Pietro de Pietri, Adoration, pen and sepia ink with white bodycolor on prepared blue paper
Attributed to Pietro de Pietri, Adoration, pen and sepia ink with white bodycolor on prepared blue paper

My initial research goal was to figure out whether the name written in pen on the mat and on the drawing is the correct attribution. The name written, Pietro de Pietri (1633-1716), is a baroque artist whose work appears in museums all over the world. Looking at his other works, I not only found drawings that were similar to the University of Melbourne’s in style but also in iconography and composition.

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Australian Comics: Reflecting on our National Identity through Object-Based Learning

The University of Melbourne’s Special Collections – which comprises Rare Books, Rare Prints and Rare Music Collections – houses approximately 272,000 items, with the Rare Books Collection contributing to 250,000 of those materials.This abundance of primary resources may be utilised for innovative research, especially when considered as an inexhaustible source for Object-Based Learning (or OBL). OBL is a relatively new approach to understanding objects in an academic context, using the kinaesthetic, immersive experience of being in the presence of or handling archival material in order to understand and learn about it more effectively. As an educational methodology, it correlates with the principle concepts of New Materialism theory and its consideration of matter as inherently dynamic and susceptible to taking on new meaning from both human and non-human perspectives.

When recording, documenting or archiving history, there are always going to be infinite variations of ‘the story of an object’ at play. It’s important that we consistently revisit and reassess how an object has been understood up until this time so as to maintain a critical dialogue surrounding its ontology. This helps us to form a deeper understanding not just of our own personal histories and identities but also of those on a national and international scale.

Within the Rare Books, the comprehensive McLaren Collection contains many early colonial Australian texts including the first official Australian comic magazine, Vumps (1908), Middy Malone’s Magazine (1947) – plus two different issues of Ginger Meggs from the 1920s.

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Symposium: Prints, Printmaking and Philanthropy

As part of the 50th anniversary of the Harold Wright and Sarah and William Holmes scholarships, a forthcoming symposium will be one of the largest gatherings of print scholars, curators, artists and collectors in Australia. Prints, Printmaking and Philanthropy: a symposium celebrating 50 years of The Harold Wright and The Sarah and William Holmes Scholarships features a three-day program which encompasses four keynote lectures, ten sessions, two masterclasses, a book launch, and a viewing of the exhibition, Horizon Lines: the ambitions of a Print Collection.

Department of Prints and Drawings study room, British Museum.
Department of Prints and Drawings study room, British Museum.

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Conserving Dürer’s woodcut “The Knight and the lansquenet”

Grimwade Senior Paper Conservator, Libby Melzer, with student conservator, Laura Daenke preparing the print for washing.
Grimwade Senior Paper Conservator, Libby Melzer, with student conservator, Laura Daenke preparing the print for washing.

The Poynton Collection forms part of the highly regarded Baillieu Library Print Collection, which over the years has invaluably contributed to the teaching of academic disciplines at the University of Melbourne (Anderson 2011, p. 5; Inglis 2011, p. 105). The collection is home to one of Albrecht Dürer’s enigmatic early woodcuts, The Knight and the lansquenet (c. 1496). This magnificent woodcut by the master printmaker depicts a knight on horseback and a lansquenet (foot soldier) in the woods. Unfortunately, a past attempt at repairing several prominent tears caused considerable aesthetic and physical damage. Consequently, the woodcut was deemed not suitable for exhibition without extensive conservation treatment.

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Horizon Lines: Copyright Infringement and Collaboration

The Baillieu Print Collection contains over 9,000 works of art including pieces by Rembrandt, Dürer and the Australian artist, Lionel Lindsay. Some of the highlights of the collection are shown in the newly opened exhibition Horizon Lines: The Ambitions of a Print Collection. Having visited the exhibition, I can thoroughly recommend it and thought I would share some of my thoughts.
The exhibition is being held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Harold Wright and Sarah & William Holmes scholarships, which sponsor Australian and New Zealand scholars to go to the British Museum to study the print collection. The scholarships aim to promote collaboration between institutions in Britain and Australia and New Zealand. Notably, this latest exhibition features several replicas and drawings of objects from the British Museum collections.

Erin Holder visits Horizon lines exhibition.
Erin Holder visits Horizon lines exhibition.

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