|A portrayal of Rodin's Burghers of Calais|
Monday, November 26, 2012
French Meets Art History: Katelyn Bennett
Katelyn Bennett, who graduated with a French minor in May 2012, recently caught up with Dr. Susan Myers this November. After a lovely chat, Katelyn agreed to share with us how her studies in French contribute to her career goals in art history. Thank you, Katelyn, for sharing your story with us!
Having been both a student of Art and French during my years at William Jewell, I had my hands full. Time was spent dividing my attention between both subjects as I sped across the quad from labs to studio classes day in and day out. My head was constantly spinning and my plate was more than full, but I was grateful for every minute. At Jewell I was able to pursue what I loved as I progressively developed and worked toward my post-graduation dream of utilizing my French and knowledge of art. Now after graduating, I have found myself exactly where I want to be. I have traded in classrooms and studios for galleries displaying countless exquisite masterpieces. It is no longer Jewell Hall, but Kirkwood Hall that I stroll through as I carry out my responsibilities as a French Catalogue Research Assistant at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
As a student at Jewell I was fortunate enough to begin an invaluable friendship with the Associate Curator of European Art and Sculpture at the Nelson-Atkins. Now, as an intern, I work as a part of a small team to complete the French Paintings Catalogue. The museum undertook this complex and detailed project relatively recently, and due to the expansive collection of French art, it will take several years to complete. The nature of the catalogue is to document every single thing we know about a piece of art within the collection. This entails provenance research, conservation, exhibition history, and bibliographical references. The list goes on. My primary focus on this project is to track down and document all bibliographical references made to any one of the French paintings in the collection. As a result, I make an effort to acquaint myself with the artist and the painting on which I am carrying out research. Truth be told, it’s a lot like detective work in the art world. In the end result, once our team is able to gather all the information we can about the pieces in our collection, these findings will be published.
So what’s the next step? What started during my time at Jewell now continues with my work at the Nelson-Atkins. As I work toward realizing my dream, I plan on obtaining an MA specializing in seventeenth to nineteenth century French and British art. Eventually, I hope to return to Europe and look after a collection based in a prominent European museum. Until then, it’s one step at a time, beginning with the French Paintings Catalogue.
Even art scholars know how to have a good laugh. Here is a snapshot of the Nelson-Atkins European Department’s award winning attempt at portraying Rodin’s Burghers of Calais for the museum’s 2012 Halloween costume celebration in honor of the recent Rodin exhibition.