Full Name: Pouncey, Philip
- Philip Michael Rivers Pouncey
Date Born: 1910
Date Died: 1990
Place Born: Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, England, UK
Place Died: Kensington, Kensington and Chelsea, London, England, UK
Home Country/ies: United Kingdom
Subject Area(s): drawings (visual works) and Italian (culture or style)
Curator and historian of Italian drawings. Pouncy was the son of Reverend George Ernest Pouncey, a banker who had taken clerical vows, Madeline Mary Roberts (Pouncy). He attended Marlborough College and Queens’ College, Cambridge. After viewing the 1930 “Italian Art, 1200-1900” exhibition at the Royal Academy in London, he decided to pursue art after college. He graduated in1931 and volunteered at the Fitzwilliam Museum from 1931-1933, making short trips to Italy in between. He was appointed as an assistant keeper in the National Gallery in London in 1934, where he remained until 1939. In 1937 he married Myril Gros, the daughter of a French army officer. He wrote the catalogs for the fourteenth-century Italian paintings, all published after he left the Gallery. In 1939 he move with the objects from the National Gallery to safekeeping in the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, Wales. At Aberystwyth his duties included editing the existing catalog of early Italian paintings, and supervising the management of the National Gallery collection, which was transferred from London during World War II. While working in Aberystwyth, Pouncey was closely associated with the assistant curator of the Print Room for the British Museum, Hugh Popham. The prints from this collection had also been moved to Aberystwyth. Popham, Johannes Wilde and Frederick Antal who were also assigned to Aberystwyth, would discuss the collection with Pouncey. He completed his war service working for the Intelligence Unit of the Foreign Office (Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park). After the war, his familiarity with the Print collection at the British Museum, led to an appointment there, collaborating with Popham (officially now) on cataloging the Italian drawings. These volumes appeared in 1950, 1962 (in collaboration with John Arthur Gere) and in 1983. Pouncy was named deputy keeper in 1954, however the keepership was never offered. In 1966 he joined Sothebys as a director while continuing to work on his catalogs. His only monograph, a 15-page Italian essay on Lorenzo Lotto’s drawings, Lotto disegnatore,1965, described the relationship between Lotto’s paintings and his drawings. From 1966 until his retirement in 1983, Pouncey served as a director at Sotheby’s, and as an advisor to the Uffizi, Louvre, Fitzwilliam, and Victoria and Albert Museums. In 1975 Pouncey was elected a fellow of the British Academy and an honorary keeper of Italian drawings of the British Museum. A loan exhibition of his (re)attributions was held on his 75th birthday at the Museum. A daughter, Francoise, married Marco Chiarini, director of the Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti). Pouncey was greatly influenced by the classic Crowe and Cavalcaselle History of Italian Renaissance Art, whose own approach was similarly untheoretical and connoisseurship based. His review of the 1964 Italian edition of Bernard Berenson‘s The Drawings of the Florentine Painters remains part of his significant writings.
- Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum. 3 vols. in 7. London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1950-1983, specifically, vols 1 & 2 Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum;
- and Popham, A. E. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries; vols 3 & 4, Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum;
- and Gere, J. A. Raphael and his Circle; 5 & 6, Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum;
- [only Popham] Artists Working in Parma in the Sixteenth Century, Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum;
- vol 7 [Wilde, Johannes] Michelangelo and his Studio; vols 8 & 9, Italian Drawings in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum;
- and Gere, J. A., and Wood, Rosalind. Artists Working in Rome, c. 1550 to c. 1640; “Review of I disegni dei pittori fiorentini, by Bernard Berenson.” Master Drawings 2, no. 3 (1964): 278-93.
- The Dictionary of Art; Gere, J. A. “Pouncey, Philip Michael Rivers (1910-1990).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Contributors: Lee Sorensen