Show me the Wilkies, says Catalogue Raisonné writer to Tate

April 2 2024

Image of Show me the Wilkies, says Catalogue Raisonné writer to Tate

Picture: Tate

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Telegraph have published an article on the plea of a scholar to be allowed more generous and timely access to paintings at Tate Britain in order to complete a catalogue raisonné project. Alex Kidson, the compiler of the Paul Mellon Centre's catalogue on George Romney, has been completing a catalogue raisonné on the Scottish Artist David Wilkie (1785–1841), a project begun by the late Hamish Miles (d. 2017). The article focuses on Kidson's requests to see many Wilkie kept in storage at Tate Britain, which has been a gargantuan task.

According to the piece:

“I haven’t succeeded in seeing the Wilkie paintings”, Mr Kidson said. “The Tate says, ‘You can go on a Tuesday morning for one hour and you’re limited to looking at five works’. If the next visit is full up, you have to wait until there’s a free spot. That’s usually about six or seven weeks ahead.

“The last time I tried they said they can make three of these works available, but a further one was not allowed to be seen at all. They didn’t say why not. I originally approached them to see these Wilkies in late November. I returned the application form on Dec 1 and in response to that was offered Feb 3. ‘The public own these works’

“That’s waiting months. I took that spot and then found I couldn’t attend for personal reasons. They said, the next available date is mid-April, but that was too late for my deadlines.”

He added: “The situation is ridiculous because the public own these works. The Tate is playing God with them.”

The piece includes quotes from other curators and scholars who are calling on Tate to be more helpful, alongside the long-standing calls for more works to be loaned out to museums where they can be placed on view. Click on the link above to read more.

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