BSR Online Lecture | William Dugood and William Kent: a story of politics, freemasonry and art deals in eighteenth-century Rome

TUESDAY 24 NOVEMBER, 18.00-19.30 CET

Clare Hornsby (BSR)

This event will take place via Zoom and requires advance registration. Please click here to reserve your place.

While researching early 18th century British visitors to Rome as a result of my work on Cardinal Alessandro Albani, I became intrigued by the discovery that a ceiling fresco for the national Flemish church in Rome had been painted in 1717 by William Kent, the Yorkshire artist who later came to prominence as a brilliant neo-Palladian architect whose work was enormously influential in the spread of the classical ideal in interior design and building. Why (I thought to myself) would a Catholic Flemish foundation pick a young and – it must be admitted – not enormously talented painter who was both English and a Protestant to add the final touch to their recently refurbished church? Trying to answer this question has led me into the archives and has revealed that the mysterious William Dugood (or Duguid or Dugeat or Duckett) was behind the commission. My researches have led me (virtually) from Rome to Lisbon, Yorkshire and finally to Rio de Janeiro and although my talk must be described as a work in progress, I think I have uncovered more details about a network of British art agents, collectors and patrons who were also spies, freemasons, scientists and diplomats than has so far been known, thereby throwing light on the early years of the Grand Tour art market.

Clare Hornsby is an art and cultural historian, specialising in the eighteenth century, who has worked on architectural history and the Grand Tour. Formerly Assistant Director of the British School at Rome under the directorship of Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, in 2010 she published “Digging and Dealing in Eighteenth Century Rome” with Yale University Press, completing the work of the late Ilaria Bignamini. She is currently a Research Fellow at the BSR, is editing a volume of essays on Cardinal Alessandro Albani and with Prof. Mario Bevilacqua is planning the Piranesi@300 conference in Rome – including a day at the BSR – to take place in late January 2021. She is a Member of the Centro di Studi sulla Cultura e l’Immagine di Roma and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.