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Tom Henry: past and current Art History projects

When not driving a tractor or operating a brush-cutter Tom has another incarnation.  He has a Doctorate in Art History from the Courtauld Institute, London and has published widely on Italian Renaissance art, especially painting in Central Italy 1440-1520.

Tom was Reader in the History of Italian Renaissance Art at Oxford Brookes University until September 2006, and was a Fellow at the Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies at Villa I Tatti, 2002-3.  From 2006 to 2012 he worked on a freelance basis on a number of publications, including his Signorelli monograph (published in 2012), and co-curated several major exhibitions, including an exhibition on late Raphael at the Prado and Louvre and an exhibition on Signorelli at Perugia, Citta di Castello and Orvieto, both opening in 2012, and acting as member of the scientific committee for the Pintoricchio exhibition in Perugia in 2008. (Further details below.) In January 2013 Tom was appointed Professor of History of Art at Kent University on a part time basis and he continues to pursue a number of freelance projects alongside that.

Tom was co-curator of the exhibition Raphael: from Urbino to Rome which was held at the National Gallery in London (closed 16 January 2005). This was the largest monographic exhibition of Raphael’s paintings and drawings ever to be mounted, and was visited by some 225,000 people.

The catalogue, which published in UK, Italian and German editions, was widely reviewed in the national and international press, and academic reviews have appeared in Apollo, Renaissance Studies, The Burlington Magazine and Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte. Sylvia Ferino described it in The Burlington Magazine as assuming “the status of a partial monograph” and as providing “a summa of knowledge published in recent reliable art-historical literature as well as adding valuable new suggestions and reflections”. All the reviewers singled out the Umbrian section of the exhibition, and Tom has written about this at greater length in Gli esordi di Raffaello tra Urbino, Città di Castello e Perugia (the catalogue of an exhibition that he curated at Città di Castello, which closed on 10 June 2006). Tom was also involved in the exhibition on Raffaello e Giovanni Santi, Urbino, 2009.

Tom co-curated an exhibition on Late Raphael at the Prado, Madrid, and at the Louvre, Paris in 2012.

Tom is also an acknowledged expert on Luca Signorelli. In 2002 he published a catalogue raissoné of the artist’s work (Luca Signorelli. The Complete Paintings, with Laurence Kanter). He was responsible for the catalogue which published previously unknown paintings on the basis of a new approach to the definition and dating of Signorelli’s work. It was the first catalogue of the artist’s work ever to be published in English or French (and the first in Italian since 1964).

In the course of his research, Tom studied every painting by Signorelli in person, ranging from San Diego to Bucharest, and from Berlin to Naples to do so, and he is probably the only person since the artist to have seen the entirety of Signorelli’s surviving work. His new discoveries included three paintings which were shown for the first time in the exhibition that he curated at the National Gallery, London, 1998-9 (Luca Signorelli in British Collections) as well as pictures that he published in greater detail in other places (e.g. The Burlington Magazine and The Metropolitan Museum of Art Journal).

Tom’s status as an established expert on Signorelli  resulted in him being invited to curate a small exhibition of the artist’s work at Umbertide (Friendship and Franciscanism: Luca Signorelli, Umbertide and the pala di Santa Croce / Amicizia e francescanesimo: Luca Signorelli, Umbertide e la pala di Santa Croce, 2006).

Tom has
co-curated Signorelli - “de ingegno et spirto pelegrino”, at the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, Perugia (and Orvieto and Citta di Castello) from 21/4/12-26/8/12.

Tom has recently completed a monograph on Signorelli, The Life and Art of Luca Signorelli, published by Yale in May 2012, complemented by the web-publication of 353 documents for the artist accessible here. He has retranscribed every known document for the artist’s activity, and added over 200 previously unpublished documents to the c.250 that were already known. This is intended as a prelude to a larger project to make Italian Renaissance art-historical documents publicly accessible via an innovative website pitched at students, post-doctoral researchers and specialists in the field. This is needed because publishers do not like to publish long documentary appendices to monographs or other studies, and it can therefore be very difficult to publish this material (despite the fact that it is the norm in History of Art to publish documents in extenso rather than to paraphrase them or publish references and brief excerpts). The scale of the documentary appendices presents no problem on a website, a medium which also offers the possibility to search for particular terms. Publication of documents on a website will therefore enable scholars to hone their archival skills and make comparisons between the types of documentation for particular artists or projects that cannot as readily be made using other technologies.  The site will also enable researchers from other disciplines to mine the documentation for types of information which may not have been the principal concern of the art historian who transcribed the original document.  In the long run Tom would like to see this site publishing all known documents for every artist mentioned in Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Artists, as well as inventories and other types of non-monographic documentation.

Extract from document in Montone archive recording commissioning of an altarpiece from Signorelli:

For a CV, click here.

To read some of Tom’s publications, click here.


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