Juliet Thorp

Critical & Historical Studies

Derek Boshier, Drinka Pinta Milka

Oil on canvas

155 x 124 cm

Title of Dissertation: Darwin’s Dream – The significance of painting and its collection at the Royal College of Art 1948–1998

When Robin Darwin was appointed Principal of the RCA in 1948 he could find no works of art with which to distinguish the institution. His dream was to create the most important art and design college in the world and to enhance its status by hanging important paintings on the walls. He embarked on building up a Collection by purchasing a few significant works then persuading Painting graduates and members of staff to donate them. My thesis examines the history of the Painting Department and analyses how a changing post-WW2 society affected the students who made these contributions. It covers decades when the work being produced was particularly influential – the 1950s when Frank Auerbach, Leon Kossoff and the Kitchen Sink painters attended the College and the 1960s with the birth of British Pop Art – followed by the 1970s when painting was overshadowed by new media, the commercialisation of the art world in the 1980s and changes engendered in the practice of painting in the 1990s. It considers what the paintings say about the artists and the institution and how the Collection reflects the position of British painting post-War.

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MA, Museum Studies, University of Leicester, 2002


Collection administrator, Royal College of Art, 1995–2011; Administrative roles in universities, galleries and publishing, 1984–95


From Darkness to Light: Post-war Painting at the Royal College of Art, Art and Education from Antiquity to the Present, University of Cambridge, 2011