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Temperamental differences and a damaged Delacroix


Lost in translation: how not to compile a catalogue
Brian Sewell Writer
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I’ll give you an example of what happened with the European Rococo exhibition in Munich in 1958. The editor of the catalogue could not speak or read English, but I had to send my catalogue entries to him in English and I also had to translate all the other entries which had been sent in various languages to him, and had been translated into German.

I had to translate the German into English, so that something that had a French entry was at the risk of mistranslation into German, and then at the risk of rather mistranslation into English by me. So you actually had to go back to basic to check that you’re not compounding errors. My misfortune was that he couldn’t edit my entries until he had had them translated into German, which was done. And then they lost the original English papers from me. And instead of telephoning and saying, can you send us a duplicate, because I had a duplicate, they translated them into German. With errors... with absolutely ghastly errors. So there is a language problem when you are dealing with an exhibition of that kind.

Born in England, Brian Sewell (1931-2015) was considered to be one of Britain’s most prominent and outspoken art critics. He was educated at the Courtauld Institute of Art and subsequently became an art critic for the London Evening Standard; he received numerous awards for his work in journalism. Sewell also presented several television documentaries, including an arts travelogue called The Naked Pilgrim in 2003. He talked candidly about the prejudice he endured because of his sexuality.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Rococo

Duration: 1 minute, 50 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2013

Date story went live: 04 July 2013