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Title: Sir George Scharf and the early National Portrait Gallery : reconstructing an intellectual and professional artistic world, 1857-1895
Author: Heath, Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0004 7223 5431
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis investigates the professional practice of the National Portrait Gallery's first Director Sir George Scharf (1820–95). It is the first focused analysis of his career and influence, within the nineteenth-century art and museum worlds. It attempts to position Scharf in relation to developments in art historical scholarship and the professionalization of museum practice, in the second half of the 1800s. Chapter 1 outlines Scharf's methodology for portraiture research and considers his scientific approach alongside the establishment of art history as a discipline during his lifetime. Whilst exploring Scharf's development of research standards to be carried forward by successors, it argues for his active role amongst a growing contingent of museum professionals. Chapter 2 reconstructs Scharf's social and professional networks, collating the names of individuals with whom he interacted and mapping the physical sites of engagement. It proposes that access to contacts proved vitally important to his official work and that Scharf himself functioned as an influential figure in this sphere. The third chapter concerns the nature of Scharf's relationships with members of the NPG's Board of Trustees. It investigates his early collaboration with two expert Trustees and charts his interactions with consecutive Chairmen of the Board, demonstrating Scharf's increasing authority with regards to Gallery procedures. Chapters 4 and 5 explore Scharf's interventions relative to the organization and interpretation of the collection across the NPG's early exhibition spaces. Chapter 4 argues that an increased capacity for display enabled Scharf to implement a rational hanging scheme, in line with the Gallery's instructive purpose and inspired by contemporary debates over the efficient presentation of public art. The final chapter documents Scharf's efforts to contextualize the national portraits, ranging from manipulating the exhibition environment, to expanding the NPG's catalogue according to a scholarly model. In its examination of George Scharf's career spanning five decades, particularly his engagement with discourse surrounding public art museums in the Victorian period, this thesis aims to make a significant contribution to the fields of museum studies and studies in the history of collecting and display.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: N0400 Art museums ; galleries ; etc.