Romantic Antiquarianism

Romantic Antiquarianism: A Conference Celebrating Scott’s The Antiquary

Saturday 26 November 2016, 09.30–15.30

The Georgian Group, 6 Fitzroy Square, London

Co-organised by Fiona Robertson (Durham) and Peter Lindfield (Stirling)


This one-day conference in the heart of London celebrates the bicentenary of the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s novel, The Antiquary, by looking at the multi-faceted nature of antiquarianism in Georgian Britain. Leading scholars from across the UK gather to present new and engaging material on the topic.

Registration — at the time of writing only 10 places remain — (£30) includes teas/coffees and lunch in one of Robert Adam’s town houses.

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Satire, prints and theatricality in the French Revolution

The Voltaire Foundation has recently announced the publication of Claire Trévien’s new book, Satire, prints and theatricality in the French Revolution. According to the Foundation:

Following an account of the historical and social contexts of Revolutionary printmaking, the author analyses over 50 works, incorporating scenes such as street singers and fairground performers, unsanctioned Revolutionary events, and the representation of Revolutionary characters in hell. Through analysing these depictions as an ensemble, focusing on style, vocabulary, and metaphor, Claire Trévien shows how prints were a potent vehicle for capturing and communicating partisan messages across the political spectrum. In spite of the intervening centuries, these prints still retain the power to evoke the Revolution like no other source material.

  1. Introduction: the other stage of the French Revolution
  2. Singing the scene: chansons and images in prints
  3. Le monde à l’envers: the carnivalesque in prints
  4. The spectacle of science: illusion in prints
  5. Théâtre de l’ombre: visions of afterlife in prints
  6. Conclusion

A blog post by Trévien and information on ordering are available here.

Event – Late Victorian Book Illustration: Progress, Knowledge and Democracy, 1 December, Sheffield Central Library

The Victorianist: BAVS Postgraduates

Late Victorian Book Illustration: Progress, Knowledge and Democracy

Thu 1 December 2016, 10:30-11:30 GMT

Sheffield Central Library

Carpenter Room

Surrey Street Sheffield S1 1XZ

Event is free, but is ticketed:

Encyclopaedias are a snapshot of a particular time, place, and world view.  Historian Rose Roberto shares images from early Encyclopaedias to tell the history of British publishing and the movement to democratise knowledge.

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Image of the Month: ‘Alfred in the Isle of Athelney’ (1751/1778)


Last month I joined RIN in a new role as the network co-ordinator, following in the footsteps of Mary Shannon. By way of introduction I want to share ‘Alfred in the Isle of Athelney, receiving News of a Victory over the Danes’, a depiction of Alfred the Great that has loomed large in my recent work on the eighteenth-century reception and representation of the early middle ages.

Nicholas Blakey painted ‘Alfred in the Isle of Athelney’ c.1750 and it was engraved by Gérard Scotin II for inclusion in the series English History Delineated, published by John and Paul Knapton in 1751. Although the series failed after only six prints (covering the period from the Britons to the Battle of Hastings), the plates were bought by Richard Sayer, who had them reworked for a 1778 reissue. The image above is Sayer’s re-issue, reworked by the landscape-engraver François Vivares. Although Blakey’s design shows clear neoclassical influences, the image is remarkable for its (proto-)romantic, sympathetic depiction of Anglo-Saxon history and for the fact that it seems to illustrate a scene from James Thomson and David Mallet’s Alfred: A Masque rather than the relevant passage from Paul Rapin de Thoyras’ History of England, a best-selling history published by the Knaptons in numerous editions and subsequently by John Harrison. Rapin presented Alfred as an English hero; Thomson and Mallet presented him to Frederick, Prince of Wales and to audiences at Drury Lane as a model of virtuous English masculinity.

Blakey’s image captures this affective nearness perfectly. Alfred is shown in his prime, a rustic poet whose harp and bow rest against the roots of a massive oak. He is on the verge of military greatness, a figure who, despite his humble dress, commands the respect of the Earl of Devon (holding the Raven banner of the Vikings – or ‘Danes’ – that Alfred will soon defeat at Edington) and of the English soldiers flocking to join him. During the eighteenth century Alfred the Great rose steadily in the popular imagination to become ‘England’s Darling’, the Romantic and increasingly romanticised Anglo-Saxon hero-king of England. Blakey’s image, informed by history and drama, offers us a glimpse of that transformation in action.