Placing Faces: The Portrait and the Country House in the Long Eighteenth Century

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.

Our speakers are a mixture of established academics, professional curators and young researchers working in a range of disciplines and environments.

Confirmed speakers include: Professor Gill Perry (Open University), Professor Emeritus Marcia Pointon(University of Manchester), Dr Kate Retford (Birkbeck College, University of London), Dr Leslie Johansen(Council for British Archaeology) and Desmond Shawe-Taylor (Surveyor of the Queen’s Pictures). However, our intention is to create a stimulating forum for discussion in this burgeoning field of research, and so we particularly look forward to hearing your comments and contributions on the day.

Programme To follow

Registration
The conference fee is £12 (£10 for registrations received before 31st March). This fee includes tea, coffee and a simple sandwich lunch.

Registration forms
Word format   PDF format

Accommodation
Accommodation is not included in the fee. Please note that the conference is being held at the King’s Manor, in the centre of York, not on the main university campus. See Conference Information for more details of local accommodation.

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