News: Earliest image of Chartist rally uncovered in Library of Congress

Doyle%20Bull%20Ring%20newspageThe oldest known drawing of a Chartist rally has been uncovered by RIN member Ian Haywood, after lying untouched in a sketchbook in the US Library of Congress for more than 175 years.

The pen-and-ink sketch from 1839 by Englishman Richard Doyle shows dozens of supporters being strong-armed by the Metropolitan Police who broke up the event. Officers were sent to the Bull Ring in Birmingham by the Government to bring an otherwise peaceful event in favour of political reform and social justice under control.

Doyle did not publish the image as he was only a teenager at the time, although he later went on to become an illustrator for Charles Dickens. There were no ‘respectable’ outlets for visual representations of current affairs in the late 1830s – neither the mainstream press nor the Chartist newspaper The Northern Star were able to publish illustrations at this time, and the famous satirical magazine Punch, for which Doyle later worked, was not launched until 1841.

This is why Ian Haywood’s discovery of the drawing is so important to modern understanding of Chartism. The drawing gives an insight into how observers at the time perceived the movement and the state’s response to it, several years earlier than previous records.

This image depicts in caricature form police brutality against peaceful, unarmed protestors in July 1839: the police and the authorities are depicted as giants wading into to the demonstration, kicking, scattering and grabbing Chartists by the handful. It is one of dozens of images in the sketchbook depicting open-air political meetings which suggests Doyle had a strong interest in contemporary events.

Ian Haywood said: “If Doyle’s image had been published it would have been the first visual representation of a Chartist demonstration and a significant blow for Prime Minister Lord Melbourne’s attempts to break up the movement. Doyle was a precocious talent and this could have made his name several years before he joined the staff of Punch and worked for Dickens.”

“From a historical perspective, this image is immensely valuable as it fills a gap in our knowledge of how ordinary people perceived the ‘threat’ of Chartism and also the vindictiveness of the state. It also confirms the dramatic significance of this event, the first major Chartist riot, which hardened resolve on both sides.”

A very Richardsonian experience: New BBC4 series on the origins of the novel, starts 8th October at 9pm

A very Richardsonian experience

By Lynn Shepherd

I’m sure a lot of people will remember the BBC4 series A Very British Murder (currently available again on the iPlayer, incidentally). What you may not know is that BBC Arts has been filming a follow-up, which will start airing in the next couple of weeks. It’s A Very British Romance this time, exploring the origins of the romantic novel, and how our notions of love and marriage have evolved over the last 200 years. To the Beeb’s immense credit, they’re starting their jaunt through romantic fiction with Samuel Richardson. And that, dear reader, is how I found myself in Spitalfields, on a bright cold day in April, talking Pamela, passion, and pictures with Lucy Worsley.

Still

The house we shot the footage in must be one of the most popular film locations in London, judging by the people going in and out. It’s an 18th century house in Princelet Street that’s been stripped back to how it must have looked when it was first built, closets, candles, wainscots and all. I’ve done some filming before, but it’s always fascinating to watch the pros at work, and see how many takes it takes to capture even a few seconds of the finished article.

Making the literary interesting on screen isn’t always easy, but in Richardson’s case, of course, we have the illustrations to Pamela to help bring the text to life. Basing our discussion on prints of Highmore’s ‘novel-in-pictures’ gave Lucy and me the chance talk through the plot and themes of the novel, and then broaden the conversation out to 18th-century attitudes to love and sex, as well as the significance of the prints themselves, as examples of the ‘multi-media event’ that Pamela became.

The series starts on BBC4 on 8th October at 9pm and I think you’d enjoy watching it – I certainly enjoyed being part of making it.

Romantic London: new digital project

Romantic London is a research project by Dr Matthew Sangster (Birmingham) exploring life and culture in London around the turn of the nineteenth century using Richard Horwood’s pioneering ‘PLAN of the Cities of LONDON and WESTMINSTER the Borough of SOUTHWARK, and PARTS adjoining Shewing every HOUSE’ (published between 1792 and 1799). It considers the ways in which the writers and works later grouped under the umbrella of Romanticism interacted with London’s communities and institutions while also examining a wide range of alternative approaches to representing and organising urban existence.

The site is based around a digital version of Horwood’s Plan laid over and georeferenced to modern maps of the city; this allows for detailed examinations and comparisons. As well as considering the Plan and its creator, the site is using Horwood’s work as a means of thinking about the ways in which writers, publishers and artists sought to communicate insights into London’s general character and particularities. By using Horwood’s Plan as a base map and adding other kinds of information to it using annotated markers, the site reflects upon the social, geographical and aesthetic assumptions made in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century attempts to make sense and art of the burgeoning metropolis.

Texts brought into conversation with Horwood’s Plan on the site at present include:
•Entries from the dual-language New Guide for Foreigners prepared around 1790 and sold by the printseller S.W. Fores from his shop opposite the Paris Diligence office.
•Descriptions and images from Modern London, an 1804 publication put together by the radical publisher Richard Phillips, which included two sets of plates of the city, one showing major landmarks, the other showing itinerant traders hawking their wares in more out-of-the-way locations.
•The lavish aquatints from Rudolf Ackermann’s Microcosm of London (1808-10), engraved from collaborations between the artist and architectural draftsman Auguste Charles Pugin and the uproarious caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson.
•The text of the 1788 edition of Harris’s List of Covent-Garden Ladies, a disreputable register of London prostitutes.

The site at present is a work in progress; there are a great number of additions still to be made. You can follow the changes and developments on the site’s blog.

Image of the Month: William Blake, Sealing the Stone and Setting a Watch (c.1800-1803).

Blake Sealing the Stone

William Blake, Sealing the Stone and Setting a Watch (c.1800-1803). Watercolor, with pen, in gray ink, black ink and graphite on moderately thick, slightly textured, wove paper. Yale Center for British Art, Yale Art Gallery Collection, Everett V. Meeks, B.A. 1901 Fund.

In an ‘Image of the Month’ in February, I wrote about Blake’s watercolour Mary Magdalen at the Sepulchre (c.1805). In this post, I’m jumping back a bit to another of Blake’s watercolour illustrations to the Bible, Sealing the Stone and Setting a Watch (c.1800-03), which depicts a moment slightly earlier in the biblical narrative, and was probably also produced several years earlier (the exact dates of these works are not known, but they have been assigned dates based on stylistic features).

The text illustrated is Matthew 27:66 which describes the sealing of Jesus’ tomb on the day after his death and burial. The chief priests and Pharisees had heard Jesus say that he would rise again on the third day, and they feared that the disciples would try to take away the body to fabricate a resurrection. They therefore asked Pilate to secure the tomb, so he sent a watch and instructed them make the tomb as sure as they could (27:62-65).

In Blake’s illustration, the task is being undertaken very diligently. At the centre of the design is a young man balancing on a ladder, holding a palette of cement and a knife. He is turning to his right, directed by a priest standing below who appears to be pointing out a gap in the cement for the young man to seal. There are two more priests to the left of the ladder, and five soldiers are standing guard.

This is a relatively unusual subject, which is perhaps unsurprising; illustrators of the New Testament have tended to focus on the acts of Jesus and his disciples, not on those of Jesus enemies. We cannot be certain whether the subject was chosen by Blake or by his patron, Thomas Butts; either way, its inclusion in the series of biblical illustrations emphasises that the tomb was firmly shut. Thus, when Blake added The Angels Hovering over the body of Christ in the Sepulchre (c.1805, V&A) to the series, he was giving the viewer privileged access to a scene inside the firmly-sealed tomb, and then in The Angel Rolling Away the Stone from the Sepulchre (c.1805, V&A) and The Resurrection (c.1805, Fogg Art Museum), Blake depicts Christ bursting that seal.

As a stand-alone design the subject may not have obvious appeal, but in a series of illustrations to the narrative of Jesus’ death and resurrection, Sealing the Stone and Setting a Watch plays a key role.

Naomi Billingsley (Manchester)

NEW Online Resource: The Romantic Illustration Network Shakespeare Gallery

Announcing: The Romantic Illustration Network Shakespeare Gallery
 
Ready for the 2016 anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, the Romantic Illustration Network is delighted to announce its digitisation of prints from Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, courtesy of negatives provided by Professor Frederick Burwick (UCLA).
 
The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery was open to the public on London’s Pall Mall from 1789 to 1805. Featuring paintings of scenes from Shakespeare by major artists of the day, including Fuseli, Reynolds, and Kauffmann, the gallery was a popular if not a financial success.
 
Prints of the paintings were published in volumes (as well as in an illustrated edition of Shakespeare), and are now digitised here by the University of Roehampton for use under a Creative Commons license. Images are arranged alphabetically by play, and new plays will be added over the coming months, so do keep checking back on the site. We have also digitised the front matter from the volumes.
 
Click on the thumbnails to access larger versions of the images, and to view the full-sized image. Once you have clicked on a thumbnail there is space to add comments on each image, and we very much encourage you to do so.
 
If you have any feedback, questions, or suggestions, please do let us know.
 

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.

REMINDER: RIN 4: The Art of Quotation and the Miniaturized Gallery. Saturday 6 June 2015, 10 – 5pm, The House of Illustration, London

The Art of Quotation and the Miniaturized Gallery.
Saturday 6 June 2015, 10 – 5pm 
The House of Illustration, London
Peter Otto (Melbourne), David Worrall (Roehampton/Nottingham Trent), Kate Heard (Royal Collection), Susan Matthews (Roehampton), Bethan Stevens (Sussex).
Supported by the University of Roehampton and the Bibliographical Society. Organised with the assistance of House of Illustration.

This session follows two themes:
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?

…and other related questions.

Registration is free, and includes free entry to the main exhibition. You can download the full programme here.

To register, please email Mary.Shannon@roehampton.ac.uk, giving your name, job title, and institution (if applicable).

REMINDER: RIN 4 Bibliographical Society Studentships, for symposium Sat 6th June, House of Illustration

Reminder: Bibliographical Society Studentships for RIN 4 Saturday 6 June 2015, 10 – 5pm, The House of Illustration, London

We are accepting applications for 3 Bibliographical Society Studentships of £60 each, to assist postgraduate students with attendance. 3 spaces are reserved for the successful candidates.

London-based and non-London based postgraduate students are all eligible: applications will be assessed on the basis of the relevance of your research to the work of the Network and/or the Bibliographical Society.

 See here for details of the symposium.

To apply, please send your CV, and a statement explaining how your research fits with the work of the Network and/or the Bibliographical Society (200 words max), to Mary.Shannon@roehampton.ac.uk by Monday 25th May. Successful candidates will be notified by Wednesday 27th May.

If you have already registered for RIN 4 on Saturday 6th June, please do consider applying.

Birkbeck Arts Week Starts: Monday, 18 May

Birkbeck Arts Week Starts: Monday, 18 May

We start on Monday 18 May with sessions on Curiosity (with Marina Warner and others), Coffee and Commonwealth, illustrator and caricaturist Chris Riddell‘s reflecting on Gulliver’s Travels and Diderot on Monday, to discussions of Ruins, productions of S.T.Coleridge‘s Ancient Mariner and Blake‘s Illuminated manuscript Vala or the Four Zoas, Mike Leigh’s Mr Turner with members of the film team, and we end on Friday with sessions on the enlightenment art of Shadow Portraits and a Magic Lantern Show. And this is just a couple of examples.

Do visit the Birkbeck Arts Week’s webpage, choose your events, and book seats. It’s all free. And please spread the word.
http://www.bbk.ac.uk/arts/about-us/events/arts-week 

REGISTRATION OPEN: RIN 4: The Art of Quotation and the Miniaturized Gallery. Saturday 6 June 2015, 10 – 5pm, The House of Illustration, London

The Art of Quotation and the Miniaturized Gallery. Saturday 6 June 2015, 10 – 5pm, The House of Illustration, London: Peter Otto (Melbourne), David Worrall (Roehampton/Nottingham Trent), Kate Heard (Royal Collection), Susan Matthews (Roehampton), Bethan Stevens (Sussex). Supported by the University of Roehampton and the Bibliographical Society. Organised with the assistance of House of Illustration.

We are delighted to announce that registration for this free event is now OPEN.

You can download the full programme here.

To register, please email Mary.Shannon@roehampton.ac.uk, giving your name, job title, and institution (if applicable). Places will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, and there will be a waiting list.

We are also accepting applications for 3 Bibliographical Society Studentships of £60 each, to assist postgraduate students with attendance. 3 spaces are reserved for the successful candidates.

To apply, please send your CV, and a statement explaining how your research fits with the work of the Network and/or the Bibliographical Society (200 words max), to Mary.Shannon@roehampton.ac.uk by Monday 25th May. Successful candidates will be notified by Wednesday 27th May.