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Trio of exhibitions on display at Muscarelle

  • Career retrospective
    Career retrospective  Table Top with Jug, 2002, oil on linen, by William D. Barnes.  Image courtesy of William D. Barnes
  • Art superstar
    Art superstar  David Hockney, The Atelier March 17th 2009, inkjet print on paper, 13/30.  Courtesy image
  • European craftsmanship
    European craftsmanship  Illuminated Leaf: A Patron Saint, done in the Style of Bourdichon, 15th Century tempera on paper.  Courtesy image
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A mysterious gold Merovingian ring, a Rembrandt self-portrait etching and a career retrospective of an American realist – each piece is unique, yet they fit together as a fascinating portrait of the extraordinary commitment to the creative arts by William & Mary faculty and students.

The trio of exhibitions can be found on display at the College’s Muscarelle Museum of Art now through June 24. On the first floor, art world superstars such as Daumier, Rembrandt, Corot, Hockney, Franc Marc and Robert Motherwell are on view, thanks to the research of students in the Muscarelle’s Curating & Connoisseurship seminar course.

The exhibition, Curators at Work II: 30 Memoranda for the Curatorial Files, calls out some of the best pieces in the Muscarelle’s permanent exhibition. Artwork was selected by the class and is displayed with wall labels prepared by the students.

“Research into the permanent collection is one of the main assignments of an art curator,” said Director Aaron De Groft. “Since the opening in 1982, the primary mission of the Muscarelle Museum of Art has been to educate William & Mary students in the visual arts by serving as a laboratory for learning.” 

Upstairs, visitors can view an exhibition of 50 paintings and 50 monotypes created by retiring Professor William Barnes. William D. Barnes: Three Decades of Still Life and Landscape is the first major retrospective of the distinguished painter’s career, spanning 30 years.

Barnes, who produced work in his Lake Matoaka studio and traveled to New York City, Italy and France, said, “I paint primarily for the adventure of looking, because for me, the interaction with raw materials offers opportunity to forge connections between myself, the subject seen and the response in paint.”

A rare gold Merovingian ring from the onset of the middle ages, ca. 400 – 600, is among the medieval treasures included in Writ in Gold, a special loan exhibition in honor of the retirement of medievalist Professor Barbara Watkinson. The ring’s diamond shaped bezel is inset with blue and green glass and set off by a cabochon garnet on all four corners. The Merovingian kings in Gaul were suppressed by Charlemagne, but their fame as a ‘realm of the rings’ survives even today in legends and literature.

Guest curated by Laura Conte ’12, Writ in Gold showcases the brilliance of almost 1500 years of western European craftsmanship. Articles on display in the 20-piece exhibition include an accumulation of gilt and illustrated leaves from medieval collections of antiphonals, known as ‘call and response’ chant book. Two leaves from an early Renaissance Book of Hours open a window onto the courtly life in Paris in the 1400s.

The Muscarelle Museum of Art is located on Jamestown Road on the campus of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.  The museum is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon until 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The museum is closed on Monday. Docent tours are available at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sundays and other times as announced. Admission is $5, and additional fees for special exhibits may apply. Admission is free for museum members, William & Mary faculty, staff, and students and children under twelve. For more information about this exhibit or the museum in general, call 757-221-2700 or visit