Study day: 'The Wonder of Birds'

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This study day was held at the Castle Museum, Norwich on 13 June 2014

The study day is part of the Subject Specialist Network: European Paintings pre-1900.


The study day was based around the Castle Museum, Norwich's spectacular multi-disciplinary exhibition ‘The Wonder of Birds’ which explores the cultural impact of birds upon mankind. The exhibition spans the centuries with 220 works by major artists and illustrators, natural history, archaeology, fashion and social history.

The National Gallery's 'Lady with a Squirrel and Starling' by Holbein is one of the stars of the show, attracting much press coverage and public interest. The sitter for the portrait, believed to be Anne Lovell, was from the Norfolk area.

There were four speakers: the two curators from Norwich: Francesca Vanke, Keeper of Art and David Waterhouse, Curator of Natural History; Susan Stronge, Senior Curator, Asian Department, V&A who spoke about Birds in Mughal Art, and Susan Foister who spoke about the Holbein. Curators from both art and natural history backgrounds were in attendance.

There followed a lively discussion about the merits and difficulties of working together on a multi-disciplinary exhibition, though all concluded that the ‘The Wonder of Birds’ is an extremely successful collaboration.

Image above: Detail from Hans Holbein the Younger, 'A Lady with a Squirrel and a Starling', about 1526-8 © The National Gallery, London