National Gallery, London’s Sir Nicholas Penny shares insight with Randolph community
Students in Andrea Campbell’s Venice and the Renaissance art class got an unusual opportunity this year—a visit by one of the world’s most esteemed scholars of Renaissance era painting and sculpture.
Sir Nicholas Penny, former director of the National Gallery, London, gave a special lecture to her class during his trip to campus this fall.
“It was nothing short of thrilling to have Nicholas Penny in our classroom,” said Campbell, an art history professor. “Bringing in accomplished professionals like him not only broadens students’ knowledge of their discipline, but these visitors bring a different view of what it is like to practice in that field. This widens students’ understanding of what they can do with their major after they graduate and can guide them toward making plans for their careers.”
Penny’s visit was part of Randolph’s partnership with the National Gallery, London. The collaboration brings high-level staff members from the Gallery to Lynchburg and provides Randolph students with unique internship opportunities at the London museum.
“Sir Nicholas’s commitment to our students is quite extraordinary,” Campbell added. “The partnership he crafted with President Bateman prioritizes students and the learning that can be achieved by the agreement. To have someone of his stature take an interest in their education and careers should make our students feel that they matter and give them confidence that the choices they make are important and that they can achieve whatever goals they set for themselves.”
Penny is the second National Gallery, London staff member to visit Randolph. (Ashok Roy, director of collections, came to campus last year.) In addition to serving as director of the National Gallery, London from 2008 until his retirement this August, Penny has written a multitude of books, articles, catalogs, and critical reviews, and previously served as the senior curator for the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The Queen of England recognized his services to the arts this year by including him in her birthday honors list with the award of a knighthood.
In his highly anticipated public lecture at Randolph, “The Natural Arch and the Concealed Mask,” Penny pointed out the use of grottoes, marble patterns, natural arches, and the combination of various types and shades of rocks in various pieces of art.
During his time at Randolph, Penny met with students, faculty, and staff and spoke with two classes. He was also able to tour the campus, including Randolph’s art collection at the Maier Museum of Art, as well as the Lynchburg area.
“I’m very impressed by Randolph College’s focus on the arts,” he said. “It’s an unusual thing for a college to have its own museum. It’s also not common to find a college community with this level of interest in the arts.”
Penny said he was pleased to see the partnership providing benefit to both Randolph and the National Gallery. “This partnership has established a link between the College and the National Gallery, and it has been a great success.”
The Gallery has continued to show its support of Randolph in other ways. This fall, it is lending a number of classical paintings from its collection for the Maier exhibition, Venetian Visions: Selections from the National Gallery in London.
“This exhibition is a fabulous opportunity for our art history and other students to see some authentic Renaissance Era paintings on campus and for the museum to be able to show them to the public,” said Randolph President Bradley W. Bateman. “The most important thing about this partnership is that it makes clear that art remains at the center of what we do here. This partnership has allowed us to do some things that we’ve never been able to do before, so we have benefited in many ways.”