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The Overshadowed
9th January 2024
Presented by Chantal Brotherton-Ratcliffe


Have you had this experience? You go to a gallery, an exhibition and are stopped dead by an unknown picture: you look at the label and find you have never heard of the artist. How does it come about that there can be such wonderful painters of whom we have never heard? This lecture will consider some of the many reasons for a good artist’s obscurity, from the brevity of his life to the misfortune of his being born and working in the shadow of a larger reputation, such as Leonardo or Rembrandt. But above all it is an excuse to spend an hour gorging on beautiful paintings, finding hidden treasures.


Chantal Brotherton-Ratcliffe is an Old Masters expert and has served on the faculty of Sotheby’s Institute of Art since 1989. She currently lectures on the MA Fine and Decorative Art and Design in London. In conversation with Tom Marks, the editor of The Apollo Podcast, she spoke about some of the unusual teaching methods she has adopted, and why you really ought to wear sunglasses the next time you stand in front of a Caravaggio painting. To listen to the full podcast episode, click here. Here are some highlights from the conversation.

Dr Chantal Brotherton-Ratcliffe graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MA in History of Art, and completed her PhD at the Warburg Institute, University of London. She trained briefly as a paintings conservator, but her utter ignorance of chemistry drove her to the more forgiving embrace of art history. She has worked for 30 years at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, and for a number of institutions in London, as a lecturer teaching a wide range of topics within 15th, 16th and 17th-century European art. Her interest is in the approach of the traditional connoisseur, teaching the analysis of those stylistic features of a painting or work of art, that can sometimes tell us the identity of the artist, and when a painting is a copy, good or bad. An interest in historical techniques and materials is an integrated aspect of this approach.

A member of The Arts Society
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