Tête à Tête avec Cromwell
Peter Seddon & Barry Barker

Friday 14th March 2008, 7.30pm

Peter Seddon and Barry Barker will talk about their project at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Nimes. This curatorial/artist’s intervention into the space of a major French regional museum provided an opportunity to work directly around a single major painting from mid 19th century French art, and to work with and within the site and gallery where it is permanently installed. The centrepiece of the exhibition was Delaroche’s famous painting of Cromwell contemplating the beheaded corpse of Charles 1st in his coffin after execution in 1649. Painted in 1831, it was the sensation of that year’s Paris Salon. Against it was a projection of Cromwell’s own subsequently posthumously decapitated head taken from 1950s photographs and animated into slight, almost imperceptible, movement. The ironies of this are many and multi layered but one of them relates to Delaroche’s own much quoted remark on the invention of photography in the 1840s, from today painting is dead! In a final flourish and acknowledgement of the macabre the Lord’s Prayer was printed in Latin backwards on the gallery wall opposite the Delaroche painting. The show itself was a reflection on historiographic concerns in politics and art from the 17th to 19th centuries; the very period which is the dominant focus of the Museum’s entire collection.

Tête à Tête avec Cromwell: A curatorial/historiographic/artist’s intervention using Cromwell opening the coffin of Charles 1st by Paul Delaroche, 1831. Musée des Beaux Arts, Nimes. 15th November 2007 – 3rd February 2008.