St John's College Oxford

Professor Catherine Whistler presented with Vice-Chancellor's Public Engagement with Research Award

Date 15 July 2019

Congratulations to Professor Catherine Whistler, Supernumerary Fellow in Art History at St John’s and Keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean Museum, who has been presented with one of this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Public Engagement with Research Awards, for her exhibition on Raphael’s drawings at the Ashmolean.

The awards recognise those who undertake high-quality engagement activities or have contributed to building capacity in this area. Entrants can be at any level in their career and activities can be of any scale, with the winners receiving recognition for their achievements at an Awards Ceremony, this year held at Keble College on Wednesday 10 July. More information about the awards and this year's winners can be found on the University website.

Professor Whistler’s project was one of 8 ‘Project Awards’ presented at the ceremony. The two-year Leverhulme-funded research project was entitled ‘Raphael – The Drawings: engaging with Renaissance Drawing’, and aimed to transform our understanding of how Raphael drew, employing an innovative multidisciplinary approach to the close study of his drawings. The exhibition, Raphael: The Drawings, ran at the Ashmolean from 1 June to 3 September 2017, and brought together 120 drawings from international collections, highlighting Raphael’s experimental approach, visual strategies and graphic language. In addition to the exhibition, there was also a book, film, gallery talks, a family trail, and opportunities to draw.

Through the project, Dr Whistler and her colleagues wanted to ‘open new pathways to understanding and enjoying the art of Raphael, to inform and inspire through the exhibition, to encourage the understanding of drawing as a cognitive and expressive act, and to give opportunities and stimulation to explore drawing as a creative and beneficial activity in its own right’.

There were 67,000 visitors to the exhibition, the vast majority of whom felt that their understanding of drawing and their views on Raphael had changed as a result of viewing the exhibition, and many of the visitors also consequently felt inspired to have a go at drawing.

You can find out more about the exhibition here