Exploring the photo archive at YCBA

Lucy and I arrived in New Haven late on Wednesday night. The jetlag has begun to subside, we’re settled into our apartments and are beginning to explore New Haven and the Yale Centre for British Art.

The view of the Green from my apartment

The view of the Green from my apartment

On Thursday we had a tour of the YCBA building and departments and spent the afternoon wandering around the fourth floor, which houses their permanent collection of 18th century art. We gazed at Turners, Constables, Hogarths, Reynolds, Stubbs and of course their Joseph Wrights.

The reference library at YCBA

The reference library at YCBA – note the lack of students on a sunny Saturday!

Over the last two days I have got stuck into the photo archive. This archive comprises of 8 bays of roller racking stuffed full of boxes containing black and white photos of selected artist’s known works. The artists are organised alphabetically, starting with Abbot and ending with Zucci.

Lucy hard at work. The photo archive is in the bays on the right hand side.

Lucy hard at work. The photo archive is in the bays on the right hand side

The works photographed might be in the collection here at YCBA, in other museums across the world or in private collections. Although it is not a complete and up to date listing, it is proving to be a really useful resource in my quest to map what Derbyshire 18th century landscapes exist.

A card in the photo archive showing a William Marlow oil of Matlock.

A card in the photo archive showing a William Marlow oil of Matlock.

Walter Evans & Co’s, Boars Head Cotton box

Boar's Head box

Derby Museums have bought a 19th century brass-bound mahogany box, with the lid inscribed in marquetry “Walter Evans and Co’s, Derby, Boar’s Head Cotton”.

The box also bears the boar’s head logo and would haveBoar's Head logo been used for storing cotton supplied by the mill in Darley Abbey. The Boar’s Head Mill was established by Thomas Evans in 1782. The Evans family seem to be the first in the Derwent Valley to recognize the commercial opportunity of having a retail outlet, serving local people with sewing and knitting cottons, embroidery threads and materials.

Earier in the project Derby Museums also bought an early 20th century cotton reel from the mill.

Richard Arkwright’s brandy pan

Matt Edwards, Derby MuseumsFrancis Hurt

We had recently been outbid on an ivory tea caddy with an Arkwright & Hurt armorial. This was given by Richard Arkwright to his daughter Susannah who married Charles Hurt in 1780. This would have been a lovely accompaniment to the portraits of Mr and Mrs Hurt by Joseph Wright that we are currently raising funding to purchase.

 However, we were tipped off about a collection of Arkwright silverware at the same auction house by Nicholas Shaw, a specialist in fine silver collectables.

 Richard Arkwright's brandy boat

Derby Museums are now the proud owners of this George III silver brandy pan, by Henry Chawner, 1787, engraved with an armorial of Sir Richard Arkwright. The armorial has an eagle crest holding in its beak an inescutcheon bearing a hank of cotton proper.

Richard Arkwright's amorialWhen Sir Richard was knighted and was made High Sheriff of Derbyshire in 1787, he commissioned WillersleyCastle and acquired a full dinner service of silver, of which this is a part, to embellish his table.

 Although working in London at the time the excellent silversmith, Henry Chawner, was a member of a local dynasty from Church Broughton, Derbyshire.

 The quality of this piece, its relative rarity and weight in silver alone will make a great exhibition piece.

Mr and Mrs Hurt – Derby Museums needs your help

Derby Museums need to raise £11,000 to purchase two portraits by Joseph Wright. The portraits are of the industrialist and land owner Francis Hurt and his wife Mary. 

 Francis Hurt

Francis Hurt, was a key figure in the economic development of Derbyshire.  He was a wealthy landowner and industrialist who exploited the iron and lead on his land – in his portrait you can see he has a piece of galena, lead ore on the table.  Their son Charles married Richard Arkwright’s daughter, cementing the bond between minerals and textiles, which underpins the inscription of the Derwent Valley Mills as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mary HurtFrancis is on display at Derby Museum and Art Gallery, while Mary Hurt is currently on loan to Buxton Museum as part of the Enlightenment! Exhibition.  She is painted with an opened book on the table and a snuff box in hand.


The paintings are being offered to Derby Museums for £122,000.  They have to raise the remaining £11,000 to secure the purchase by the end of March.  For more details on their fundraising events and activities and info on how to donate, visit their website.