March 4, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Kamilla Elliott, Portraiture and British Gothic Fiction: The Rise of Picture Identification, 1764–1835 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).
Traditionally, kings and rulers were featured on stamps and money,the titled and affluent commissioned busts and portraits, and criminals and missing persons appeared on wanted posters. British writers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, however, reworked ideas about portraiture to promote the value and agendas of the ordinary middle classes. According to Kamilla Elliott, our current practices of “picture identification” (driver’s licenses, passports, and so on) are rooted in these late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century debates.
Portraiture and British Gothic Fiction examines ways writers such as Horace Walpole, Ann Radcliffe, Mary Shelley, and C. R. Maturin as well as artists, historians, politicians, and periodical authors dealt with changes in how social identities were understood and valued in British culture—specifically, who was represented by portraits and how they were represented as they vied for social power. « Read the rest of this entry »
September 20, 2012 § 1 Comment
Until 10th November 2012
Familiar with the name Patrick Procktor? We must confess that even at the BARS blog the name didn’t immediately ring a bell… and it’s precisely this kind of response that this current exhibition of Procktor’s work at the Huddersfield Art Gallery as part of ROTOR, a two-year series of exhibitions, public events and talks, seeks to challenge and change. During the 1960s Procktor was part of a suitably swinging circle that included such art luminaries as David Hockney and Ossie Clark, and the paintings on show here encompass eminently recognisable figures including Jimi Hendrix and filmmaker Derek Jarman. As the picture illustrating this post amply indicates, Procktor was a brilliantly deft watercolourist who excelled at portrait painting, and in his recent review of the show Independent critic Charles Darwent touches on the correspondences between Hockney and Procktor’s practices. In contrast to Hockney, however, the latter part of Procktor’s like was sadly marked by decline and tragedy – but this exhibition, together with the book by its curator Ian Massey entitled Patrick Proctor, Art and Life, should go some way to incorporating this intriguing figure back into the narrative of 1960s art in Britain.
Exhibition: Royals, Courtiers and Confidants – Early English Portrait Drawings from The Huntington’s Art Collections
September 10, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Until 29th October 2012, Huntington Museum of Art, San Marino CA
As the culmination of a semester course on English cultural history, students from Claremont McKenna College contributed to this exhibition on 16th- and 17th-century portrait drawings. Each student was responsible for studying a single portrait — examining how it was made and how the portrait’s subject was represented, and conducting research on the portrait’s historical context. Their research forms the basis of the exhibition’s object labels. The 19 works on view include miniature graphite drawings, pastel sketches, and pen and ink drawings by artists such as Peter Lely, William Faithorne, Peter Oliver, and David Loggan. Collectively, these objects — and the students’ research — tell a story of how members of English society chose to portray themselves and how these works are seen by viewers today. Royals, Courtiers, and Confidants: Early English Portrait Drawings from The Huntington’s Art Collections is co-organized by Melinda McCurdy, associate curator of British art at The Huntington, and Victoria Sancho Lobis, visiting assistant professor at Claremont McKenna College and curator of the print collection and fine art galleries at the University of San Diego.
May 3, 2012 § 2 Comments
Keith Vaughan: From Romanticism to Abstraction, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 10 June 2012
This exhibition at the Pallant House Gallery marks the centenary of the birth of the British painter Keith Vaughan (1912–1977). Born in the nearby Sussex village of Selsey, Vaughan was one of the most significant artists of his generation, best-known for his paintings of figures in the landscape that have been seen as an expression of the human condition in the post-war age.
Self-taught as an artist, Vaughan studied at Christ’s Hospital school at Horsham, before working as a designer for Lintas, the advertising arm of Lever Brothers, which informed his strong sense of composition. Although he was grouped with the ‘Neo-Romantic’ artists during the 1940s, Vaughan was an independent figure in the British art world, and an influential tutor at Camberwell School of Art, the Central School of Art and Design and the Slade. Literature and European art had a powerful influence on him, particularly the work of Cézanne, Picasso, Matisse and Nicholas de Staël. He kept a moving journal in which he frankly recorded his thoughts on art, his homosexuality, and struggles with depression, which ended with his tragic suicide.
The exhibition includes loans from public collections including the Arts Council Collection, Bradford Museums and Galleries, the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, the Government Art Collection, Leicestershire Council Art Collection, the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Southampton City Art Gallery, and Worthing Museum and Art Gallery, as well as many private collections to whom we are indebted. The exhibition has been curated by Simon Martin, Head of Curatorial Services at Pallant House Gallery.
Conference: Beyond the Frame: Portraits and Personal Experience in Renaissance Europe, c.1400 – 1650
April 5, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN, 09.30 – 17.45, Saturday 28 April 2012 (with registration from 09.00). Admission free, all welcome – No booking is necessary
In Renaissance art historical scholarship, the category of the portrait has provided a key framework for thinking about and discussing representations of the individual, an emphasis that has been echoed in a range of recent exhibitions celebrating Renaissance ‘faces’. This inaugural Renaissance postgraduate symposium at the Courtauld Institute of Art invites new scholars to explore the limits of this framework. It aims to encourage students of the Renaissance, in its broadest definition, to consider the domestic, devotional and urban environments of portraits. Contributors are invited to consider how the experience of viewing, commissioning and living with portraits affects our understanding of their meaning and function, situating the images within their historical contexts rather than within the museum’s exhibition space. Likewise, we invite participants to challenge the terminology of portraiture and to consider objects and images which do not fit into the conventional category of the ‘portrait’ but which nevertheless ‘portray’ individuals.
April 5, 2012 § Leave a Comment
International symposium of the Tansey Collection of Miniatures, to be held at the Residence Museum in Celle, Germany, 25-27 January 2013; Call for Papers deadline: 31st May 2012
From the 16th century well into the 19th century, portrait miniatures represented the most widely circulating form of portraiture. Mounted as jewellery or often framed on everyday objects, they were easily worn or carried on one’s person and easily transported. They served within a wide range of social functions. Portrait miniatures could be offered as gifts at court and were frequently exchanged as keepsakes among loved ones. They could be displayed within one’s circle or contemplated in private. The portrait miniature often combined a high level of technical craftsmanship with artistic ingenuity and inspiration. Indeed, the intrinsic attributes of the portrait miniature, its distillation within a minuscule format as well as its intimate nature, have tended to limit art historical research and museum exhibits to the greater advantage of large-scale portraiture. The expertise of a small circle of specialists is, thus, confronted with conspicuously limited findings in comprehensive research and the publication of regretfully few monographs. Knowledge about works in many existing collections remains to date substantially incomplete.
February 27, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Highland dress and tartan fabric are universally recognised signs of Scotland and Scottish identity. This display explores what these distinctive garments and this highly recognisable textile meant to six different people who were painted between 1680 and 1780.
At first associated specifically with the Gaelic north and west of the nation, in particular with the flowering there of an elite warrior culture, the ‘Highland habit’ was subsequently used to convey various and sometimes conflicting messages. Highland dress was adopted by the Hanoverian army as it struggled to impose authority within Scotland, and the kilted soldier soon became a powerful symbol of the wider British Empire. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 20, 2011 § Leave a Comment
11 November 2011, The National Portrait Gallery, London 10.00am-8.00pm
This one-day conference is organised by the National Portrait Gallery in partnership with The Open University to accompany the exhibition The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons (20 October 2011-8 January 2012 – read a review of the exhibition here).The event, which promises to be of interest to British Art Researchers working in a variety of areas from portraiture to gender studies, brings together the research skills of an international group of academics working in the different disciplines of theatre and performance studies, literature, music and art history and provides a forum in which to address the role of visual and material culture in the formation, promotion and reception of women performers in this period. With its emphasis on the visual culture of the eighteenth-century actress, we hope that the conference will generate stimulating discussions around the exhibition and its themes. There has already been a great deal of publicity around the exhibition, relating to the re-discovery of a Nell Gwyn portrait which hasn’t been seen for 50 years – you can listen to last night’s episode of BBC Radio 4′s Front Row, in which Mark Lawson interviews actresses Romola Gari and Thandie Newton here.
The First Actresses will explore the vibrant yet controversial relationship between art, gender and the theatre in eighteenth-century England. It will chart the emergence of the profession of actress after 1660 by examining the public lives, reputations and representations of female performers during the long eighteenth century. The exhibition will explore the ways in which ambitious portraits and more intimate works, and a growing market for prints and mass-produced objects, were central to the eighteenth-century struggle to professionalize and expand the theatre and develop its close relationship with fine art. The show will argue that the remarkable visibility of portraits of women players, sometimes replete with symbolic and allegorical functions, was crucial to this process. Nevertheless, the public spectacle of these women on display (on stage and in paint) provoked passionate debates on moral and sexual decorum. Commissioned portraits by leading artists, satirical prints and commemorative objects fed these concerns and contributed to the growth of a lively celebrity culture, which has been seen to anticipate the modern ‘star system’. The exhibition will explore some of the aesthetic, gender and class questions which are raised by portraits of actresses, including performers such as Peg Woffington, Sarah Siddons, Dorothy Jordan, Frances Abington, Elizabeth Linley and Giovanna Baccelli.
August 23, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Portraits & Powerhouses: New Perspectives on Georgian Life
Wednesday 26th October 2011, 14.14 – 17.15pm, Bowland Lecture Theatre, Berrick Saul Building, University of York
The Portraits & Powerhouses: New Perspectives on Georgian Life symposuim at the University of York‘s Bowland Lecture Theatre will provide a forum to review current doctoral research into the Georgian period. It is hosted by the History of Art Department in collaboration with the York Georgian Society, and will provide an opportunity for researchers to exchange ideas and information. Speakers includer Tom Almeroth-Williams on ‘The Equestrian Culture of Hanoverian London’; Carolyn Dougherty on ‘The Carrying Trade and the First Railways in England’ and Matt Jenkins on ‘Antiquity and Improvement: Polite Shopping in Georgian York’ – you can download the full conference schedule here. Admission is free but seats are limitied: to reserve yours please contact Fran Sands firstname.lastname@example.org
April 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Conference: Saturday 11th June 2011 at the King’s Manor, University of York. Postgraduate Organisers: Jordan Vibert and Hannah Lyons
This interdisciplinary conference is concerned with the complex relationship between eighteenth-century portraits and the places they were so often ultimately destined for – the country houses of Britain’s landed elites. These grand houses were vast public spaces, used by their owners to systematically showcase their political power and social status.
Commissioning and displaying portraits was one way in which a family could aggrandize themselves, whether by making a genealogical link to a military hero or a royal relative, or by making a broader national claim to political allegiance or imperial dominance. But portraits could also interact with country houses in other quite surprising ways, drawing together seemingly disparate contexts and narratives to create new and unexpected meanings. A portrait of a woman, for example, could vastly complicate seemingly confident masculine displays of martial heroism and political power, while a depiction of a dead child might forge unsettling connections between private grief and public narratives of bloody warfare and imperial dominion. It is these complex interactions between the portrait and the wide array of familial and national narratives at work in the country house that this conference sets out to unravel. « Read the rest of this entry »