Visit to the Ashmolean Museum


The Pastel Society Trip to the Ashmolean Museum Oxford by Louise Diggle PS

To have a private viewing of the the Drawings Collection at the Ashmolean was a marvellous and inspiring opportunity. We looked at some absolute gems in pastel - from fine 18th portraits to Monet, Degas, Sickert, Pissarro and others.

The Ashmolean holds a wonderful collection of pastels, most of which are kept in store but available to see by appointment. The curator, Caroline Palmer, gave a fascinating talk and insight into the work. She and Felicity chose an excellent range of examples. It was a real eye opener to see such exquisite work up front, unframed and close up. Almost too close up - I was nervous of sneezing! Pastels (as we know!) are so delicate when they are not behind glass. But that fragility is one of the draws for me.

One piece that stood out for me was a superb drawing of a woman sewing by Fantin Latour.  One of my favourite painters.  A wonderful composition, elevating the most mundane of chores.  It was a good reminder to me that the best of subject matter is often in the most ordinary.

It was also a joy for me to rediscover the Ashmolean again after many years, particularly after the refurbishment.  I had forgotten what a treasure trove it was.  I am conscious of being very London focussed. On the way back on the Oxford Tube I listened to some of the Ashmolean podcasts produced during lockdown. Short but sweet; I would thoroughly recommend them to find out more about their collections.

Huge thanks to Felicity for organising the day.  It was also very nice as a new member of the Pastel Society to meet other members. I am certainly keen on returning to explore more of their extraordinary collection.