Obituary of Carl Winter

Carl Winter (1906–66) was an art historian who specialised in the study of English watercolours and portrait miniatures. He joined the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1931 as Assistant Keeper in the Departments of Engraving, Illustration and Design, and of Paintings, becoming Deputy Keeper in 1945.

From The Times, 23 May 1966

His previous work at the Victoria and Albert Museum had led to his specializing in the study of English watercolours and portrait miniatures. But these boundaries were far too narrow to satisfy his appetite for works of art, and besides pictures, in which field he was one of the first to appreciate the neglected merits of Italian seventeenth century paintings, he was particularly drawn to Renaissance bronzes and eighteenth century porcelain. To personal relationships he brought the freshness of a singularly unreserved nature, enlivened by a sharp mind which took very little for granted.

Winter was born in Melbourne on January 10, 1906. He was educated there at Xavier College and at Newman College in the University of Melbourne. He came to England in 1928 to go to Exeter College, Oxford. But after little more than a year, owing to financial difficulties at home, he made the characteristic decision to leave while the going was good so as to make sure of a visit to Italy, a country which was always to retain a firm hold on his affections.

Upon his return, after a difficult period,  he at last embarked in 1931 upon his chosen career when he was appointed Assistant Keeper in the Departments of Engraving, Illustration and Design, and of Paintings, in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Through working closely there with Basil Long he acquired the discerning habits of eye and the systematic methods of work which were the foundation of his later expert knowledge of portrait miniature painting. His two published works on this subject, 'Elizabethan Miniatures', a King Penguin which first appeared in 1943, and 'The British School of Miniature Portrait Painters', a British Academy lecture delivered in 1948, though limited in extent, are works of learning whose originality has been of fundamental importance in all subsequent studies of the subject.

After the death of Long in 1936 he was virtually in charge of that section of the department which was concerned with paintings and drawings in their various forms and in 1945 he was appointed Deputy Keeper.

The Fitzwilliam offered an ideal field for the exercise of his varied talents. He was quick to seize upon the urgency of certain practical measures of organization, upon which a report was presented to the university in 1949. Upon this basis he obtained in subsequent years generous support for increases of staff, for extended office and workshop accommodation, for the publication of catalogues and for other projects. The culmination of his plans for the museum was the building of an extension,  which is to be opened by the Queen Mother on July 14. The exceptional bequests received by the museum during the past seven years from Guy Knowles, from Louis C G Clarke, and from Sir Bruce Ingram, all in varying degrees, owed much to the affection which his stimulating friendship inspired.

Reproduced with kind permission of The Times
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