Tuesday, 11 November 2014

11 November - Laurence Binyon and the British Museum

David in the British Museum

'They shall grow not old ...'
from 'For the Fallen' by Laurence Binyon

Many will have seen the poppy installation at the Tower of London. David and I attended a fascinating event in honour of (Robert) Laurence Binyon (1869–1943) at the British Museum on 11 November 2014. Binyon's granddaughter, Sophie Gray, assisted a member of staff from Prints and Drawings with the delivery of a presentation about the War Poet's life and work. 
Binyon, who was immensely interested in art from Europe, China and Japan, was invited to head up the new Department of Oriental Prints and Drawings in the British Museum in 1913, just before the outbreak of war. His career at the British Museum spanned 44 years.
Binyon was too old to enlist as a soldier in the Great War, but was keen to serve and volunteered with the Red Cross as an Orderly. He became a stretcher bearer. 
Basil Gray, Binyon's son-in-law, took over his British Museum work. The new Department of Oriental Antiquities was created in 1933.
We were able to listen to a recording of Binyon's voice and to see documents in the poet's hand, along with prints and watercolours that he had acquired for the Print Room. Two portraits of Binyon by William Strang were on display.

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