Obituary: Cecil Gould

Cecil Hilton Monk Gould, art historian; born London 24 May 1918; Assistant Keeper, National Gallery 1946-62, Deputy Keeper 1962-73, Keeper and Deputy Director 1973-78; FRSA 1968; died Chard, Somerset 7 April 1994.

CECIL GOULD was an art historian whose reputation will go on increasing. During a working life devoted to the National Gallery, high office and honours eluded him. Nor during his lifetime did his published work receive the recognition it deserved. Two kinds of writing will however ensure he is not forgotten.

Detailed scholarship, as definitive as it is meticulous, is the leitmotiv of his catalogue of the 16th- century Italian schools in the National Gallery, first published in two volumes in 1959 and 1962, and then reissued as a single revised volume in 1975, the year which also saw the publication of his Leonardo. His first important work, An Introduction to Italian Renaissance Painting (1957), was very different. Though equally careful in its use of facts, it went beyond its title, for Gould not only had a feeling for the relationship between painting and sculpture and the other arts, but also conveyed intimations of the sensibilities of the Renaissance.

Gould's breadth of understanding was rooted in his preoccupations. He was an insatiable traveller, above all in Italy, and had a passionate love of music, particularly of opera. Gould was a familiar sight at both Covent Garden and Glyndebourne.

The other place where he was often to be found was the Reform Club, in London. After his retirement from the National Gallery in 1978, where for the last five years he had been Keeper and Deputy Director, he moved to the country, but he continued until the end of his life to have a wide circle of friends in London.

He was also well known in academic circles, and one of the few honours that came his way, at the very end of his life, was when he was made a 'correspondant' (foreign associate) of tne Institut de France. Earlier he had contributed to the Dizionario biografico degli Italiani, and, in 1981, wrote Bernini in France. It had been preceded by Trophy of Conquest: the Musee Napoleon and the creation of the Louvre (1965), a study of Napoleon's acquisition of works of art.

Italy was, though, the main focus of his art-historical studies. In particular he turned to Parma, and his most important book published during his lifetime was The Paintings of Correggio (1976). It was the first major work on Correggio to appear in any language for over 40 years and will last much longer. Apart from the light this book throws upon Correggio's work, and no student of the Renaissance can ignore Gould's monograph, art historians will continue to turn to it as a model of how these things should be done.

Yet it is not being unduly optimistic to expect that an as yet unpublished book will come to be regarded as Gould's magnum opus. This is his monograph on another artist from Parma, Parmigianino, which he completed before his death, and which is due out later this year. Gould was perfectly suited to unravelling the complexities and contradictions inherent in the work of one of the most influential of Italian artists.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum