The Making of the Age of Chivalry

Jonathan Alexander, the organiser of an exhibition on English Gothic Art at the Royal Academy, outlines its contents and objectives.

Choosing a title for the blockbuster exhibition devoted to English Gothic Art at the Royal Academy proved one of the most difficult tasks of all. Perhaps it was naive not to expect this and perhaps all exhibition titles fail in one way or another. But the difficulty we had encapsulates the problems of an exhibition which aims to be both popular and didactic; which aims to present objects which are rare and precious for aesthetic enjoyment, but which also has to recognise that they are removed in many cases from people's experience and expectations; and which has to hold some sort of balance between accessibility for the general public and a whole range of other commitments, to conservation requirements, to the needs of exhibition design and to art historical and historical scholarship. In the end such an exhibition becomes a series of compromises between some more or less clearly perceived ideal and the practical constraints of various kinds.

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