‘Fantasy Figures: Inspiration and Reality’

Professor Melissa Percival
(University of Exeter)

Wednesday 3 February
4:10 pm
Barber Institute Photograph Room


‘This paper presents research that culminates in an exhibition at the Musée des Augustins, Toulouse (21 Nov 2015–28 Feb 2016). The fantasy figure is revealed as a recurring phenomenon in European painting, encompassing the Venetian bravi and courtesans of the Renaissance, the isolated half-length drinkers and musicians of the Caravaggisti, the tronies of Dutch painting, the pitocchi vagabonds of naturalist painters in Italy, the expressive heads of eighteenth-century France, and the English fancy picture. These paintings challenge social norms by their exploration of ambiguous identity; through their semiotic ‘gaps’ they incite the viewer to imaginative speculation. Operating independently of academic and institutional categories (portraiture, genre, allegory), these informal and often quirky productions of the studio are celebrations of artistic freedom. The paper will focus on the intellectual background to the project as well as the transformation from idea to exhibition.’

All welcome; refreshments served
Enquiries to Sara Tarter:


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