RIN Summer event: ‘Staging Shakespeare’, Professor Frederick Burwick, Westminster Archives Centre, July 19th 2016

RIN’s summer event took place on one of the hottest evenings of the year, but a great crowd turned out to hear Frederick Burwick’s public lecture ‘Staging Shakespeare: picturing Shakespeare’s plays in the 18th and 21st centuries’.

A renowned expert on the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery, Burwick’s starting point was the question: what relevance are the Boydell prints to the staging of Shakespeare?

His answer, in contrast to Richard Altick’s (in Painting From Books, 1985) is: quite a lot.

Burwick picked out 27 images which showed that many (not all) of the Boydell prints in fact have a close affinity with what a London audience might have witnessed on stage at the end of the 1700s.

He showed that, because many of the original paintings were done by artists who were also scene painters, the prints are a useful guide to what the 18th century stage would have looked like. Northcott and others asked actors such as Kemble to pose in their studios in role, and the paintings conform to the language of gesture in use on the stage at that time.

Indeed, Burwick’s lecture made it clear that the Boydell images remained an influence on subsequent Shakespeare productions, as Burwick drew comparisons with 20th and 21st century stagings.

At the wine reception (sponsored by the British Association for Romantic Studies) after the lecture, attendees were able to look at the digitized Shakespeare Gallery prints donated to RIN by Burwick, and also at items from the Westminster Archives extensive Theatre collection.

 

 

Audio Recordings of Keynote Lectures from ‘The Arts and Feeling in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture’

From the Birkbeck 19th C Forum website:

‘We are pleased to announce that audio recordings of Keynote Lectures are now available for ‘The Arts and Feeling in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture’, a major international conference which took place at Birkbeck, University of London, 16-18 July 2015.

The conference explored the ways in which nineteenth-century authors, artists, sculptors and musicians imagined and represented emotion and how writers and critics conceptualised the emotional aspects of aesthetic response. It aimed to map the state of the field in this growing area of interest for nineteenth-century scholars by locating recent interdisciplinary work on sentimentality and art and writing and the senses within wider debates about the relationship between psychology and aesthetics in the long-nineteenth century.

Speakers investigated the physiology and psychology of aesthetic perception and the mind/body interactions at play in the experience of a wide range of arts. Key questions included: How did Victorian artists represent feeling and how were these feelings aestheticised? What rhetorical strategies did Victorian writers use to figure aesthetic response? What expressive codes and conventions were familiar to the Victorians? Which nineteenth-century scientific developments affected artistic production and what impact did these have on affective reactions?’

To access the recordings and abstracts, click here.

Musings on the Romantic Illustration Network: The Story So Far

This year, facilitating the Romantic Illustration Network has taught me three things: be ready shift furniture and sweep floors at 9am in your best conference jacket; never underestimate the importance of the well-timed tea break; and the most important work is often done in the pub after the symposium, so always choose a good watering-hole and book a large table. It’s been a great pleasure developing the Network and getting to know the regulars and the new faces who attend each event. I’ve become familiar with the inside workings of the British Academy, the Tate, and the House of Illustration, and I now have a really good sense of the goals and constraints of what are often loosely termed ‘heritage organisations’. It’s exciting to see, particularly after our recent event on Saturday June 6th, how our convivial gatherings, individual research papers, and gallery tours are actually building towards an understanding of shared interests and emerging research questions. Intellectually the awareness of a shared agenda and new theoretical approaches is growing, and alongside this, there is now a real sense of the Network as a collaborative international team of scholars. I hope we can continue to build on this. The great strength of the network is, I think, that relationships have been built both in person and virtually. The website and blog goes from strength to strength, with more than 6700 views in over 25 countries. We are currently developing a digitised gallery of 18th century prints of scenes from Shakespeare, courtesy of a generous donation from Frederick Burwick at UCLA. These beautiful high-definition images will be ready for the Shakespeare 2016 commemorations. I’ve enjoyed keeping in touch with network members via the blog: I post news of CFPs and events, but also useful resources and members’ research: ‘Image of the Month’ is a popular series of posts. RIN members are a collegiate bunch. The Network events have shaped my own research in unexpected ways: I never imagined I’d write a scholarly article about Dickens’s chair, for example. Most importantly, they have been great fun: as someone said to me at the recent symposium, ‘Why don’t we do this every week?’. Why don’t we, indeed.

Event Report: ‘The Art of Quotation and the Miniaturised Gallery’, RIN 4, Saturday 6 June 2015

The fourth Romantic Illustration Network symposium took place at the House of Illustration on Saturday the 6th of June. Once again the event was well-attended with a friendly mix of regulars and new faces, local and international.house-of-illustration-logo-kids-in-the-halls-column-arts-agency

We had two inter-related themes for the symposium:

1.Miniaturization: Drawing on Peter Otto’s work on virtual culture in the Romantic period, is the illustration a form of virtual gallery? How does visual meaning change when an image is resized?
2.The Art of Quotation: How were literary quotations used to conceptualise visual images? How important are framing devices to the meaning of an image?

However, speakers were free to interpret the terms ‘quotation’ and ‘miniaturised gallery’ in any way they saw fit, and to raise any other questions they chose.

We kicked off with David Worrall (Roehampton/Nottingham Trent) who presented us with his concept of ‘locations of curation’. After crediting William St Clair in RIN 3 for inspiring his quest for a new theory of illustration, Worrall explored what he described as two currently disconnected narratives – Romanticism and eighteenth-century theatre – to consider the changing moments when images interact with other objects, such as the people who view them. He used the example of theatrical portraits to demonstrate how images moved from stage, to page, to prints, to household objects.

Susan Matthews’s (Roehampton) paper interrogated questions of scale, domesticity, and artistic encounter, the idea of ‘meeting’ an artist though their illustrations. She pointed out that the name ‘House of Illustration’ (as opposed to ‘Gallery of Illustration’) is significant: we often seem to want to give illustration a ‘home’. She focused on Fuseli’s illustrations to an edition of Cowper’s popular poem The Task (1785), and revealed the awkward tensions between Fuseli’s depictions of domestic scenes and Cowper’s lines, whilst also showing that Fuseli could produce powerful images on a small scale when he really wanted to. Matthews drew parallels between Fuseli’s techniques and the recent exhibition of Paula Rego’s work at House of Illustration.

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Plate 17, The Book of Urizen William Blake Archive

From here we zoomed in still further, with Peter Otto’s (Melbourne) paper on plate 17 of Blake’s The Book of Urizen (1794). Otto gave a detailed and original reading of the plate which encompassed The Terror and images of decapitation by guillotine, the story of Adam and Eve, Perseus and the Gorgon, and the Narcissus myth to show how the plate connects primal history with events unfolding in the present through an art of visual and textual quotation. He argued that the plate illustrated a turning point in society, represented as a decapitation, and that Blake was constructing an imagined reality through quotation which in turn tries to shape or frame what reality is.

From royal executions to royal collections, Kate Heard (Royal Collection) showed us how George III and George IV both engaged with the reproductive print market, albeit in very different ways, as prints enabled middle-class consumers to gain access to items in the Royal Collection. We saw how Royal Collection items circulated as prints, so much so that satirical caricaturists could imitate them, and she argued that the print market played a crucial role in the public sense of the King. We also saw what a fantastic resource the Collection is for scholars.

Taking us through to the Victorian period, Bethan Stevens (Sussex) spoke about her work on the albums of proofs put together by the dominant mid-century London wood-engraving firm, the Dalziel family. The firm of Dalziel produced the illustrations to a vast range of literary and non-literary texts, including such classics as the Alice books and Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. Stephens showed how, in the albums, the exclusion of words affects the status, form and narrative of illustration, and provokes a new attention to illustrations as images which enables all kinds of subversive and intriguing readings.

Three Bibliographical Society Studentships were awarded: Anne Musset (Warwick/Paris-Diderot), Tessa Kilgariff (National Portrait Gallery/Bristol), and Naomi Billingsley (Manchester). We ended the day, as usual, with a period of open discussion about the broader themes of the event and the future of the network (upcoming ventures include the panel at BARS 2015 in Cardiff and the digitised Shakespeare Gallery, currently under construction). After that we adjourned to the pub, to round off a successful and fun day with a friendly drink.

Details of the BARS panel will be appearing on the blog and website soon: we hope to see you there!

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Podcasts available: RIN 3, ‘The Literary Galleries’, February 2015, Tate

Podcasts of our third event ‘The Literary Galleries: Entrepreneurship and Public Art’, held at the Tate on February 27th 2015, are now available to listen to and to download on Vimeo here.

The programme for the symposium is downloadable from https://romanticillustrationnetwork.wordpress.com/events/, but the speakers were:

1) Rosie Dias (Warwick), ‘Viewers, Patrons, Readers, Consumers? John Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery and its Public’

2) Ian Haywood (Roehampton), ‘Macklin’s Poets Gallery and the age of Terror’

3) Luisa Calè (Birkbeck), ‘The Hours’

4) Frederick Burwick (UCLA), ‘Painting and Performance: Tableaux Vivants on the London Stage’

5) Martin Myrone (Tate), ‘Blake and the Limits of Illustration’

Event Report: ‘The Literary Galleries: Entrepreneurship and Public Art’, RIN 3, Friday 27 February 2015, Tate Britain

The third ‘Romantic Illustration Network’ symposium took place on Friday 27th February at the Tate Britain. Podcasts of the talks will be available on the website next week.

This symposium brought together the authors of the key scholarship on the literary galleries of the Romantic period: Fred Burwick (The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery, 1996), Rosie Dias (Exhibiting Englishness, 2013), Ian Haywood (Romanticism and Caricature, 2013), Luisa Calé (‘Blake and the Literary Galleries’, 2008; Fuseli’s Milton Gallery 2006) and Martin Myrone (Gothic Nightmares, 2006; John Martin: Apocalypse, 2011) in a venue that is itself a form of literary gallery (Tate Britain) to present new research and to debate the relationship of painting to illustration, text, and print.  To what extent did the literary galleries change the role of illustration in the Romantic period?

RIN 3 attendees at the tea break, enjoying tea and pastries.

RIN 3 attendees at the tea break, enjoying tea and pastries.

Martin Myrone, Lead Curator in Pre-1800 British Art, welcomed everyone to the Tate, before we heard from our first speakers: Rosie Dias and Ian Haywood. Dias showed us how the location of Josiah Boydell’s shop on Cheapside and Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall fitted in to the cultural geography of 18th century London. She drew upon Luisa Calé’s work to demonstrate that at the Shakespeare gallery the textual and the visual – the catalogue of Shakespeare extracts and the paintings themselves – were presented as autonomous realms that could be separated or united at will, and that attendees could choose by their physical actions to be either readers or spectators.

Ian Haywood gave a paper on Macklin’s shop the Poets’ Gallery and his exhibition and publication Gallery of British Poets. He presented a subversive close reading of the text and images published in 1794 in the fourth issue, at the height of the Terror in Paris. Luisa Calé gave a fascinating analysis of Maria Cosway’s ‘The Hours’ (the lead image on the RIN blog).

After lunch all together in the Tate café, Fred Burwick gave a paper on tableaux vivants, which argued that the stage was a kind of literary gallery in the early nineteenth-century, as artists and dramatists recreated famous paintings on stage, and in some instances turned narrative paintings into plays.

RIN 3 attendees in the Tate's galleries, in front of Barry's 'Lear'.

RIN 3 attendees in the Tate’s galleries, in front of Barry’s ‘Lear’.

We were then treated to guided tours of the Print Room and the Galleries by Assistant Curators Désirée de Chair and Clare Barlow. We looked at prints by Blake and Fuseli, as well as illustrated pages from Bell’s British Poets and a print of Barry’s ‘Lear and Cordelia’. In the galleries, we heard about Fuseli’s ‘Lady Macbeth seizing the daggers’, as well as looking closely at Barry’s enormous finished oil painting of Lear and the dead Cordelia.

After the presentation of the Bibliographical Society Studentship to Naomi Billingsley (Manchester) for her project on Blake and religious art, Martin Myrone spoke about gaps, misapprehensions, and questions of scale and authority in relation to the study of relationships between text and images, and between disciplines (such as literature, art history, book history, visual culture studies, theatre studies, etc). We rounded off the day with a discussion about the relationship between images, literature, and theatre, before heading to the White Swan for a companionable drink. The next symposium is on Saturday June 6th at the House of Illustration, and we are sure it will be as enjoyable and productive as this one! Keep an eye on the blog and the events page for details of the programme and registration.

Event Report: ‘The Artist and the Writer’, IES, 29th November 2014. Supported by the British Association of Victorian Studies and the University of Roehampton.

‘The Artist and the Writer’, IES, 29th November 2014.

Supported by the British Association of Victorian Studies (www.bavs.ac.uk) and the University of Roehampton.

‘The Artist and the Writer’ at IES told a chronological narrative of the relationship between artists and writers c. 1750 – 1850, revealing the contrasts and connections in book illustration from the eighteenth century to the Victorian period. The day opened with Lynn Shepherd’s paper on ‘Illustrating Pamela’. Shepherd showed how the illustrations to Pamela by Hayman and Gravelot create a narrative with a significantly different perspective from that provided by Pamela’s narration.  In the 28 illustrations – chosen on literary rather than visual grounds by Richardson himself – the ‘warm scenes’ are totally omitted.  Mr B’s assaults therefore exist only in Pamela’s words and not in the third person visual narration of the illustrations.  Lynn Shepherd read the images in terms of the pyramidal structures of contemporary conversation pieces, and also traced the gradual disappearance of barriers placing Pamela outside the class territory occupied by Mr B. The following discussion focused on the question of the kinds of visual literacy that readers might have brought to the task of reading the illustrations.  Shepherd argued that those who had sat for portraits would have understood the visual languages of these images.

Mary L. Shannon (Roehampton) introduces novelist and scholar Lynn Shepherd

Mary L. Shannon (Roehampton) introduces novelist and scholar Lynn Shepherd

Sandro Jung’s paper on ‘Thomas Stothard, Romantic Literature and the Illustrative Vignette’ took an ephemeral publication – The Royal Engagement Pocket Atlas  – as a means to overturn some of the key assumptions of illustration studies, namely that illustrators focused on old canon works newly freed from copyright. Stothard’s more than 800 head vignettes for Baker’s annual diary featured illustrations to recent and fashionable authors, prompting purchasers to discuss their current reading.  Baker followed Bell’s example in commissioning illustrations, but Baker made the decision to include recent poets not illustrated by Bell. Stothard, for instance, illustrated Crabbe, Byron and Scott, as well as Hayley’s Triumphs of Temper and Rogers’ Pleasures of Memory.  Stothard’s recognizable visual style thus provided a branding device not just for Baker’s publication but also for the concept of literature.  Jung argued that the Baker series offers a snapshot of consumer historical conditions.

Tim Fulford presented the early nineteenth-century as a period of virtual travel, when travellers prepared themselves by visiting exhibitions and looking at engravings, and picture books changed what the Romantic poets published.  Turning away from an earlier anti-picturesque aesthetic, and an earlier hostility about literary annuals, after 1818 Wordsworth and Southey repeatedly produced virtual topography, which functioned as guides for tourists.  The new urban bourgeoisie craved reminders of the countryside they had left, and technical developments made illustrations increasingly affordable.  Industrialization lowered the cost of paper, while from the 1820s the move to steel rather than copper engraving made larger print runs possible.  The Lake District gained its name through the sale of books of engraved views which were more popular than verse.  The Lake poets were therefore keen to foster links with artists and by the 1820s were working on jointly authored picture books in which poems were written to accompany pictures.  In the following discussion William St Clair argued that we needed to follow the logic of two industries and two media, tracing the links between them.

Exhibition of images from Senate  House Special Collections

Exhibition of images from Senate
House Special Collections

After a lunch sponsored by the British Association for Victorian Studies, and a visit to see some beautiful illustrated books in the Senate House library Special Collections (chosen to complement the day’s talks), Sophie Thomas traced the pre-history of the figure of the Bard in painting and illustration, from Thomas Jones’ the Bard (1774) via West, Sandby, Fuseli, Turner and Martin to the Bard in Blake’s illustrations to Gray and his painting of Gray’s Bard for his 1809 exhibition. Thomas’s paper on ‘Bardic Exhibitionism’ showed how Gray’s Bard appeared in Bentley’s illustrated Gray and reappeared in a lower illustrative mode in editions by Bell and Cooke, carrying complex meanings.

In the final session on Dickens, Mary L. Shannon’s ‘What did Dickens learn from Romantic Illustration?’ argued that Dickens drew on the more recognizable figure of Cruikshank to establish his own public identity, creating a visual image which drew on the conventions of visual Byronism.  Sadly, Ruth Richardson was unable to speak due to a bereavement, so more time was then devoted to open discussion. This ranged across author portraits, later images of Dickens and Victorian authors, continuities between the Romantic and Victorian periods, and links between theatre and visual culture. Anthony Mandal reminded us of the influence of Scott on Dickens, and Julia Thomas raised the significance of Luke Fildes’ watercolour tribute to Dickens, ‘The Empty Chair’ (1870).  The day concluded with a sociable drink nearby, at which it was agreed that the lively atmosphere, high-quality papers, and the trip to Special Collections had all made the event enjoyable, varied, and successful.

Susan Matthews, University of Roehampton