Month: March 2016

Week in Review – 26 March

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As it’s the Easter Weekend, my object of the week is this beautiful watercolour by Francesco Bartoli. Painted between 1700 and 1725, Bartoli depicts ‘Six Easter Eggs, chiefly painted by the nuns of Amelia‘. The watercolour is now housed in the British Museum. For the full object record, see here.

Other blog posts, CFPs, conferences and podcasts that caught my eye this week included:

The forthcoming conference on Craft at the John Rylands Library. For the conference programme see here.

Crafts Magazine’s ‘book club’ podcast. Here, they invite author Robert Penn to discuss his new book The Man Who Made Things Out of Tree, the story of one man’s quest to make as many objects as possible from a single fallen tree.

I also really enjoyed Sally-Anne Huxtable’s blog post for National Museums Scotland, titled ‘Living up to One’s Teapot: Oscar Wilde, Aestheticism and Victorian Satire‘. The post examines an incomparably wonderful (and terrifying) teapot, situating it within the broader contexts of the Aesthetic movement and ‘Chinamania’.

I’ve recently discovered the Histories of Emotion blog, which constitutes a wonderful repository of posts for historians of emotion.

I also noticed CFP for a new series from Amsterdam University Press on Visual and Material Culture, 1300-1700.

The CFP for the Architecture and Feminisms conference, which explores the topic in six thematic areas: Ecologies – Economies – Technologies – Histories – Pedagogies – Styles.


ECRS – 21 March

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Please join us for the sixth session in the University of Edinburgh’s Eighteenth-Century Research Seminar series. The session will present new work in eighteenth-century studies, with an emphasis on religion and religious imagery. The session will feature Kang-Po Chen (University of Edinburgh), who will discuss ‘The Archetypological Antithesis in William Blake’s America: A Prophecy (1793)’, and Josh Dight (University of York), whose paper is titled ‘“Let sound morality, and genuine Christianity be goals from which you commence your political career”: Religion in the Courtroom and Trial of Thomas Muir’.

All are welcome. Seminars are held at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, from 4:30-6pm, and are followed by a drinks reception. 

You can also follow the series on its twitter account @ECRS_Edinburgh. We’ll be live-tweeting the papers from that handle.

Week in Review – 18 March

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Image via Winterthur Digital Collections

Here is this week’s roundup of articles, objects, CFPs and conference listings.

This incredible album of photographs of the home and ceramics collection of the Reverend Edward McClure, now housed at the Winterthur Museum, Library and Garden. For more see the Winterthur’s blog post on the book.

The programme for the University of Edinburgh’s forthcoming Artisans and craft production in 19th century Scotland conference.

This lovely review of the Victorian house, 18 Stafford Terrace.

This ongoing CFP for submissions to the Journal of Homosexuality. 

The conference for the AHRC-funded Antique Dealer Project (Leeds, 14-15 Apr 16)

The CFP for the Reading Art – Pre-Raphaelite Painting and Poetry conference.  (Birmingham, 27-28 May 16)

The CFP for the Collections in the Habsburg Court conference (Madrid, 27-28 May 16).

The CFP for the Decor and Architecture in the 17th and 18th Centuries conference (Lausanne, 24-25 Nov 16).

This important list of Books on Black Women for #womenshistorymonth.

The CFP for Visualizing Consumer Culture, Commodifying Visual Culture in the English-speaking World.

The Scott Opler Fellowship in Architectural History of the Renaissance and Baroque period.

These Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships with the National Museum of Scotland.

Award: Lewis Walpole Library Travel Grant

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I’m thrilled to have been awarded a Lewis Walpole Library Travel Grant to conduct research for my postdoctoral research project, Crafting the Self: Assemblage & Identity, 1770-1900. The broader project will provide an unprecedented history of ‘assemblage’ produced in Britain, North America, and British India between 1770 and 1900. Employing an inclusive definition of the term, the project will examine a variety of material and literary forms of assemblage, including paper collage, shellwork, scrapbooking, and photocollage, and will explore how their production reflected the intimacies, interests, and identities of their makers (I’ll write a much fuller post on the project shortly).

The Lewis Walpole Library Travel Grant (to be taken in the Spring of 2017) will facilitate research for one aspect of this broader project, which will explore the social and familial role played by the production of composite ‘albums’, such as scrapbooks, sketchbooks, and commonplace books. This research will focus on a number of albums collected and produced by Horace Walpole and his circle, including Folio 53 D18 828, the scrapbooks of the sculptor Anne Seymour Damer. The project will explore how the albums’ production allowed for the construction of social, familial, and affective narratives and identities, and will form part of a broader study of several collections of communally produced composite albums made between 1700 and 1900.


Exhibition Review – Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion

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I recently visited the Walker Art Gallery‘s latest exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite paintings, Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion. Having grown up on visits to the Walker Art Gallery, the Lady Lever Gallery at Port Sunlight, and the Manchester Art Gallery – home to the collections of the northern industrialists who were some of the Brotherhood’s most prominent patrons – I was somewhat skeptical as to whether the show would provide any new perspective on the art of the Pre-Raphealites and their peers.

Despite these concerns (and the show’s rather formulaic title), the exhibition did far more than simply trace the histories and preoccupations of the most famous Pre-Raphaelite artists. Instead, the exhibition emphasised a number of less explored avenues – namely, the work of lesser known ‘Pre-Raphealite’ painters; its presentation of ‘modern life’, and the movement’s relationship with the city of Liverpool.


Guest curated by the Pre-Raphaelite scholar Christopher Newall, the exhibition displayed well-known works, including John Brett’s The Stonebreaker (1857-8) or William Holman Hunt’s arresting The Scapegoat (1854), alongside paintings by those who shared the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’s commitment to ‘truth to nature’, incredible detail, and luxuriant colour, such as Arthur Hughes’ In the Grass (1864-5, above).

The exhibition also tried to place ‘Pre-Raphealite’ art within its domestic context, displaying smaller works on paper, such as watercolours, in a wall-papered and painted space, supposedly reminiscent of the Victorian home (pictured below). Within the airy and elegant galleries of the Walker Art Gallery, these neatly zoned spaces powerfully conjured the intimacy of viewing art within the home.


Most significant however, was the exhibition’s account of the the relationship between the development of Pre-Raphaelite painting and the city Liverpool itself. Charting the Brotherhood’s Liverpudlian patrons, as well as their participation within the city’s exhibition culture (namely through the city’s Autumn exhibitions), the exhibition compellingly reinforced Liverpool’s ‘position as the Victorian art capital of the north’. (For more information on this, see the museum’s post about the Scottish-born Liverpool-based patron, John Miller.)

Whilst works by Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and John Everett Millais were all present in the exhibition, these were by no means its main draws. Instead, intimate works, domestic settings, and scenes of modern life set it apart from the glut of Pre-Raphaelite exhibitions that have proceeded it. By exploring lesser-known artists and the exhibition culture and patronage network of Liverpool and Northern England, the exhibition attempted to provide nuance to what can often feel like a rather monolithic movement, dominated by accounts of its three most famous participants.

The exhibition runs until 5 June 2016, and its catalogue, written by Christopher Newall, is available here.

Week in Review – 5 March

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Page from the commonplace book of Ellen Warter, granddaughter of Robert Southey, Coll-1559, Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh.

Having spent many a recent free moment looking at commonplace books in the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research Collections, the CFP for the fascinating-sounding Holding/Held by the Book conference struck a real chord with me. The conference considers ‘what it means to hold a book as well as the continuing hold the book has upon its readers’.

Other CFPs, TOCs, and posts that caught my eye this week included:

The call for submissions for Issue 4 of British Art Studies.  

The CFP for Life Writing and Film Biography in the Trans-Cultural Context. 

The Claiming Space: Women and Fashion symposium.

The CFP for Materiality and the Visual Arts Archive: Matter and Meaning.

The latest edition of Print Quarterly (March 2016).

The recent Notches blog series on sexually transmitted diseases, particularly Jill Briggs’ post on ‘Moral Panic and Syphilis in Jamaica‘, and Agnes Arnold Foster’s post ‘“The Unreasonable Indulgence of That Appetite”: Cancer as a Venereal Disease in the Nineteenth Century’.


Teaching: Introduction to Art History with The New School of Art

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Between May and July 2016, I’ll be delivering an introductory art history course in Edinburgh in association with The New School of Art.

The 10 week evening course will provide an introduction to the art of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It will explore a number of topics, including landscape and nature, revivalism, artistic institutions, travel, and gender. The course aims to provide a broad view of artistic practices and media employed at this time, and will include sessions on oil painting, drawing, watercolour, sculpture, photography, and collage. The course will introduce students to famous artists as well as lesser-known practitioners, and will discuss local artists and art works housed in local collections wherever possible.

For further information, see The New School of Art’s website.