Speaker: Dr Catherine Whistler

The History of Art Society welcomed Dr Catherine Whistler from the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford on Wednesday evening. 

Dr Whistler is Keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean, and is also a Fellow of St John’s College. Oxford. She spoke to our students about her role as chief curator of one of Britain’s most important art collections, and in particular of her part in identifying a lost masterpiece by the sixteenth-century Venetian painter, Titian.

This is his ‘Triumph of Love’, a tondo painting which may well have served as a cover for a portrait of an aristocratic Venetian lady, Elisabetta Querini Massola. Dr Whistler talked about her rediscovery of this painting, its cleaning and restoration, and the painstaking work of piecing together its eventful history. She convincingly made the case for this being a playful painting that would have served its part in the polite and intellectually assured culture of Venetian humanism, and compared its function to that of the medal: sophisticated, high-status, and refined.

The students were delighted with the talk, not least because of Dr Whistler’s engaging and enthusiastic manner.

It was a real treat to listen to a leading expert in her field.

Dr Simon McKeown
Head of History of Art

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