Thursday, February  7, 4:30pm
Cole Assembly Room, Converse Hall

Nicholas Penny, Director of  
The National Gallery, London,  
to Lecture at Amherst College

February 6, 2013, 413-542-2295


AMHERST, Mass. -- On Thursday, Feb. 7, at 4:30 p.m., Dr. Nicholas Penny, director of The National Gallery, London, and an internationally distinguished scholar, curator and public intellectual, will deliver the lecture "How Museums Influence Artists: Some Curious Examples," in Cole Assembly Room, in Converse Hall at Amherst College. The lecture will be followed by a reception at the Mead Art Museum. Both the lecture and the reception are free and open to the public.

"We're honored and delighted to welcome Nick back to Amherst for what promises to be a fascinating lecture, touching upon Amherst's long tradition of collecting and teaching with art," noted Mead Director Elizabeth Barker. "Knowing the rigor of his intellect and the energy of his public presentations, I fully expect that we will emerge from the lecture hall with a fresh understanding of the mutually beneficial relationships between museums and artists."

Penny became the director of The National Gallery in 2008 and has worked to integrate the gallery, which holds the United Kingdom's national collection of Western European paintings from 1250 to 1900, into public life. He has also led the successful campaign to purchase Titian's masterpiece Diana and Actaeon. Under Penny's leadership, The National Gallery has seen a steady rise in attendance that has made it the second-most-visited museum in Great Britain.

Described by London's Independent newspaper as an intellectual "heavyweight" and by The Guardian as "defiantly highbrow," Penny has impeccable academic credentials. Educated at Saint Catharine's College, Cambridge, and at The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, Penny previously served as Leverhulme Research Fellow in the History of Western Art at Clare Hall, Cambridge; Slade Professor at Oxford University; senior research fellow at King's College, Cambridge; and keeper of Western art at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. From 1990 to 2000, Penny served as the Clore Curator of Renaissance Painting at The National Gallery, in which capacity he famously identified the Madonna of the Pinks, previously assumed to be a copy, as a genuine painting by Raphael. Before returning to The National Gallery as its director, Penny worked as the Andrew W. Mellon Professor and Senior Curator of Sculpture and Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Penny's numerous publications include the definitive three-volume Catalogue of European Sculpture in the Ashmolean Museum; the classic Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture, 1500-1900, written with Francis Haskell; Dürer to Veronese: Sixteenth-Century Painting in the National Gallery, co-authored by Jill Dunkerton and Susan Foister; and The Art of the Renaissance Bronze, written with Anthony Radcliffe.

Penny's lecture at Amherst is sponsored by the Mead Art Museum and co-sponsored by the Amherst College Department of Art and the History of Art, The Massachusetts Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies at UMass and Smith College's Museums Concentration Program. His visit to the United States is made possible with generous support from Charles Wilkes, Amherst College Class of 1971 and Chair of the Mead Art Museum Advisory Board, and Helen Wilkes.

The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, spanning 5,000 years and encompassing the creative achievements of many world cultures. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. The museum and its gift shop-café are open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round, and until midnight on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday during the academic term.


For more information, including a complete schedule of all museum events, please visit or call 413/542-2335.