Sir Robert Bruce Gardner (1943-2017)
We are deeply saddened to report the death of Courtauld alumnus, former colleague and renowned conservator Sir Robert Bruce-Gardner, who was Head of the Department of Conservation and Technology from 1989 – 1999. Even after his formal retirement Robert remained an important presence and support to the Department and The Courtauld.
Robert joined the Department as a student in 1968, after studying Fine Art at Reading and spending a year travelling in Asia. He became a staff member after graduation, working under Stephen Rees Jones, before becoming head of Department himself. For many, he will be best remembered as one of the impressive triumvirate which also included Gerry Hedley and his successor, Caroline Villers. Each of these great conservators brought a different expertise which together created a perfect synergy which produced a generation of influential painting conservators.
Besides his deep technical knowledge of western paintings, Robert had a lifelong interest in and love for thangka painting, on which he was a leading expert. He had a wonderful ability to communicate with both professionals, collectors and those technically less well versed. His legacy as a teacher and master conservator has been an inspiration to generations of conservators. He commanded tremendous respect, but above all, he brought to us all a wonderful sense of fun. He will be sorely missed.
A memorial event for Robert will be arranged by The Courtauld later in the autumn.