Over the past decade, Christine Rolland (née Buckingham) ’76 has led a team of 20 art, textile and commerce historians in a project on the Van Loo dynasty of painters. Recently their combined efforts were published as “Autour des Van Loo: Peinture, commerce des tissus et espionage en Europe, 1250-1830” or “In the Shadow of the Van Loo: Painting, Textile Commerce and Espionage in Europe, 1250-1830″ by PURH (Publications of the Universities of Rouen and Le Havre). The book, sponsored by the Custodia Foundation, is written entirely in French and is 400 pages in length with 115 reproductions, most in color and full page, of textiles and paintings, many of which appear in print for the first time.
The project was born from Rolland’s Ph.D. dissertation on Louis Michel Van Loo, a member of the Van Loo family dynasty which she submitted to the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1994. The Van Loo family were painters whose influence during the 17th and 18th centuries spread across Europe as they painted portraits for wealthy aristocrats and royals and helped found academies for artists. Because the painters in the Van Loo movement tended to move around the continent, source materials for them are scattered among different countries and in different languages, which made them hard to track until the fall of the Iron Curtain and the rise of digital technology broke down former barriers, explains Rolland.
“This project is a direct descendant of my multidisciplinary training at Hobart and William Smith,” says Rolland. “For most of my European colleagues, multidisciplinary work means that each colleague stays strictly in his or her own discipline while working on the same topic. Very few are used to crossing over so that they themselves apply techniques from different disciplines to their own work. Thus, what seemed natural to me, when confronted with a situation where networks from many disciplines were involved seemed foreign to them, whereas my own work was strengthened by their concentration in their particular fields.”
In addition in 2012 Rolland published a translation of a drawings catalogue for the Alexis Bordes Gallery in Paris and an English translation of a guide to “The Site of Saint George of Boscherville,” a book written by archaeologists who excavated the Romanesque Abbey. She is currently in the process of translating another catalogue for the Alexis Bordes Gallery.
Rolland’s other activities include tour guiding in Normandy and doing research for galleries. She writes poetry inspired by images and their history, which she is developing into what she calls “photopoetics,” an integration of words and images into a whole.
While a student at HWS, Rolland participated in the first study abroad trip to Florence, Italy, with Professor of Art and Architecture Elena Ciletti. “On that trip, Elena insisted we keep an art journal, and that is a practice I have continued to this day. Whenever I visit a museum, out comes my journal,” says Rolland.
Rolland majored in art at the Colleges and received high honors for her project on the Italian Proto-Renaissance sculptor Giovanni Pisano as seen by the Mannerist artist-critic Giorgio Vasari. She lives in France with her husband. They have two young adult children.