Although many art lovers have collected prints, not all made the leap from amateur to connoisseur. In the 18th century the English adopted the French term connoisseur, to know (now connaisseur); to describe a person of taste informed about art. Gradually, however, the term evolved to define a person whose specialised knowledge moved beyond the realm of the mere enthusiast.
Peter Tomory's interest in prints commenced before the Second World War. In Germany in 1937, and then as a post-war art history student in Edinburgh, he studied and worked alongside some of the greatest scholars of the day, finding equal satisfaction in both historical European works and the far-reaching developments within Modernism.
These interests directly influenced the way the Gallery's print collection flourished between 1956 and 1965, his term as director.
Tomory began collecting prints during his years teaching at La Trobe University in Melbourne, both for his own pleasure and because he recognised their value as teaching aids for students denied ready access to the great collections of Europe. He dealt with a number of London dealers, but it was his relationship with Christopher Mendez which proved the most lasting. The latter writes; 'I recall that [Peter] came to Europe for study purposes, possibly sabbaticals and for other reasons every couple of years and, being a very sociable and outgoing man, we would always have meals together and became good friends… When he decided to retire to England I began to see him more often, visiting him in Wareham and accompanying him to exhibitions in London on his visits. He continued to add to the collection for many years'.
This exhibition demonstrates Tomory's passion for 16th and 17th century Italianate works on paper, whether landscapes or on classical or religious themes. Although but a sample of the recently acquired collection, they are a fitting demonstration of a connoisseur's eye
- Curated by
- Mary Kisler
- Main Gallery
- Free entry