Treasures of the University : an examination of the identification, presentation and responses to artefacts of significance at the University of St Andrews, from 1410 to the mid-19th century; with an additional consideration of the development of the portrait collection to the early 21st century
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Since its foundation between 1410 and 1414 the University of St Andrews has acquired what can be considered to be ‘artefacts of significance’. This somewhat nebulous phrase is used to denote items that have, for a variety of reasons, been deemed to have some special import by the University, and have been displayed or otherwise presented in a context in which this status has been made apparent. The types of artefacts in which particular meaning has been vested during the centuries under consideration include items of silver and gold (including the maces, sacramental vessels of the Collegiate Church of St Salvator, collegiate plate and relics of the Silver Arrow archery competition); church and college furnishings; artworks (particularly portraits); sculpture; and ethnographic specimens and other items described in University records as ‘curiosities’ held in the University Library from c. 1700-1838. The identification of particular artefacts as significant for certain reasons in certain periods, and their presentation and display, may to some extent reflect the University's values, preoccupations and aspirations in these periods, and, to some degree, its identity. Consciously or subconsciously, the objects can be employed or operate as signifiers of meaning, representing or reflecting matters such as the status, authority and history of the University, its breadth of learning and its interest and influence in spheres from science, art and world cultures to national affairs. This thesis provides a comprehensive examination of the growth and development of the University's holdings of 'artefacts of significance' from its foundation to the mid-19th century, and in some cases (especially portraits) beyond this date. It also offers insights into how the University viewed and presented these items and what this reveals about the University of St Andrews, its identity, which changed and developed as the living institution evolved, and the impressions that it wished to project.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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