Ward Library portraits

In addition to a substantial collection and award-winning architecture, the Ward Library also displays artwork depicting Fellows and Masters from Peterhouse. Most appropriately, the Library houses a number of pictures of people who have played a significant role in the history and development of the collection. Thus, situated to the left of the library desk, is a portrait in oil by Sir Lawrence Gowing (1918-1991), distinguished writer on art and Principal of the Slade School of Fine Art 1975-1985; Gowing’s painting features the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, Baron Dacre of Glanton, who was Master of Peterhouse from 1980 to 1987, and was instrumental in bringing about the move of the Ward Library to its current location in premises that had previously been leased to the University to house its museum of Classical Archaeology.


Hugh Trevor-Roper, Baron Dacre of Glanton, by Sir Lawrence Gowing (Photographed in black and white by J. M. Gibson)

Of central position in the Gunn Gallery is Hugh G. Riviere’s portrait of Sir Adolphus Ward, Master from 1900 to 1924, whose bequest of his collection led to the founding of the Ward Library.

Sir Adolphus Ward by H. G. Riviere

Sir Adolphus Ward by H. G. Riviere

Elsewhere in the Library are portraits of other significant donors to the collections, notably Sir Herbert Butterfield, Master of Peterhouse from 1955 to 1968, as painted by Ruskin Spear (1911-90). Despite being described as ‘clown-like’ in its depiction of Butterfield, this picture proved more generally successful than Spear’s earlier commission to paint Butterfield’s mentor, Paul Vellacott.

Sir Herbert Butterfield by R. Spear

Sir Herbert Butterfield by R. Spear

A portrait with particular and uncontroversial relevance to the recent history of the Ward Library is Dr. Hephzibah Rendle-Short’s pencil drawing of Martin Golding, Fellow 1970 to 2012, Ward Librarian from 1981 to 2012, and currently Emeritus Fellow. As Ward Librarian for just over thirty years, Martin Golding has been the principal influence on the character, aesthetics and atmosphere of the current Ward Library. He oversaw the transfer of the collections from the unsatisfactory bookstacks housed over the Perne Library, which in the final years of that arrangement had had to be emptied of its rare book collections because of the problem of securing them in what was, in effect, a public reading room. Over almost three decades from the opening of the Ward Library in 1984 until his retirement, Martin then presided over the steady growth of the College’s holdings and the development of a working environment that was, remarkably, both imposing in elegance and welcoming in ambience. This achievement was crowned by the extension of the Library in 2005, with the opening of the Gunn Gallery, where Martin’s taste and attention to detail were again prominent in the choice of the award-winning architect, Tristan Rees-Roberts, and in the design and construction of furniture and fittings.

Martin Golding, by Hephzibah Rendle-Short

Martin Golding, by Hephzibah Rendle-Short

The choice of Hephzibah Rendle-Short as the artist for this portrait stemmed from a personal association after Martin spotted Hephzibah’s work through a window and recognised it to be the work of a student from the Slade. Hephzibah in turn recognised him as the author of an essay she admired on her teacher, Euan Uglow. A firm friendship was initiated, and Martin went on to write an introduction to an exhibition she held in Paris in 2003.

Hephzibah Rendle-Short was born in Brisbane, Australia in 1961. She moved to school in Cambridge in 1979, and studied in London at the Slade School of Fine Art from 1981 to 1988. In her final postgraduate year she was awarded the Slade Purchase Prize for figurative painting, and the Boise Travel Scholarship. Since 1990 she has held eleven solo exhibitions of her work, in Adelaide, Cambridge, London and Paris, and has participated in numerous group exhibitions in museums and galleries in England and Australia. She has taught at the Slade School, the City & Guilds School of Art, the Canterbury School of Art and the Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.

In 2007 she began work on a Ph.D in the School of Fine Art at the Royal College of Art, and was awarded her Doctorate in 2012; from 2011 she also began a Lacanian psychoanalytic training at the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research. She now works principally in London.

The drawing of Martin Golding, which was commissioned by the College, was completed in some fifteen sittings between January and April 2012. This number of sittings reflects the engagement with painting from life into which Hephzibah Rendle-Short was inducted as a student at the Slade. Originating with William Coldstream (Slade Professor from 1949 to 1975) and continued by his most distinguished pupil, Euan Uglow, it developed an approach to painting the motif of distinctive rigour. It involved maintaining a precise set-up for the model, and measuring repeatedly from a fixed point, the resultant marks often remaining visible on the completed painting. A similar intensity could mark the act of drawing, leaving its traces on its surface. The marks are the coordinates of the spatial relation between the artist and the model, and of the model in relation to the surrounding space; they constitute the internal architecture of the image. In using them, the artist acknowledges that the image creates a reality separate from that of the motif, while being dependent on it; that the measuring-marks that appear to anchor a real object on the support in truth plot a reality internal to the work. This issues from an experience of the presence of the model that can only be partial, registering the approximate sense in which that actual presence can be realized on the surface of the work: the resulting image, the trace of a sustained and minute attention, realises a presence both intransigent and elusive in its refusal of expectations of graphic completeness.


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