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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The year anniversary of Harvard telling me that decorative botanical engravings did not belong at the Fogg. This event ignited my passion to have this subject taught in 200 schools all over the world.

Here is my response:

Thank you for you reply Ted.

Just for the record the iconic images of  Robert John Thornton represent the essence of the passion for neoclassicism that obsessed the English during the Napoleonic Wars. They celebrate the genius of Carolus Linnaeus and the advanced forms of engraving, stipple engraving, mezzotint and hand coloring that evolved during this time. They also signal the start of the plant hunters in England that raced to scour the world in an attempt to classify all plant life. These works were so important at the time that Parliament chose to allow Thornton to create a lottery to raise funds for their completion.

They also were the engravings that Edwin Lutyens chose for the British Embassy in Washington, his only building in the United States and the art that Bobby Scott chose for Walter Annenberg for the American Embassy in London.

My reference library contains over 20 works devoted to the artistic importance of Thornton.

Harvard, as you know, is famous for having limited curators turn down fine collections from super rich patrons to the benefit of many other institutions.

While this is not as appalling as the Antisemitism that cost the Philadelphia Museum of art the Rosenward, Potamkin and Annenberg collections in the 20th century, it is still shocking and sad that your traditions of faux expertise are continuing.

Just because rich, empty headed, spoiled victims of plastic surgery have been riveted by Thornton's "decorative" appeal during the last 50 years, that is no reason for the curator of your print collection not to look beneath the surface and understand that their significance is more than skin deep.

You would be kind to pass this e mail on to your colleague in the print department.



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