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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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.

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.

Registration for this event will soon be open: details will be posted on this blog.

We will also be advertising 3 Bibliographical Society Studentships of £60 each, to assist postgraduate students with attendance. 3 spaces are reserved for the successful candidates; details of how to apply will be advertised here soon.

UnivRoehamptonlogo Bib Soc support logo house-of-illustration-logo-kids-in-the-halls-column-arts-agency

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’

Image of the Month: William Blake, ‘Mary Magdalen at the Sepulchre’ (c.1805).

William Blake, 'Mary Magdalen at the Sepulchre' (c.1805). Watercolor with pen and ink on paper. 17 1/4 x 12 1/4 inches (43.8 x 31.1 cm). Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.  http://collections.britishart.yale.edu/vufind/Record/1670856

William Blake, ‘Mary Magdalen at the Sepulchre’ (c.1805). Watercolor with pen and ink on paper. 17 1/4 x 12 1/4 inches (43.8 x 31.1 cm). Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.
http://collections.britishart.yale.edu/vufind/Record/1670856

February’s ‘Image of the Month’ comes from Naomi Billingsley, PhD Candidate in Religions and Theology, University of Manchester, and recipient of a Bibliographical Society Studentship to assist with attendance at the third RIN symposium, ‘Literary Galleries’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of approximately eighty watercolour illustrations to the Bible produced by William Blake for his loyal patron Thomas Butts (a civil servant) between 1800 and about 1805 (several designs were added after this date but the majority were completed in this five-year period).[1] It is not clear how these designs originally functioned as illustrations: they may have extra-illustrated a large Bible or they might have been kept in their own portfolio or volume as a Bible in pictures.[2]

The design is from c.1805 and depicts Mary Magdalene at the tomb (or sepulchre) of Jesus; it is probably an illustration to John 20, because in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, there are others with Mary when she goes to the tomb, and it is John that mentions Mary seeing ‘two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain’, which Blake has included in the design (v. 12). However, Blake has compressed several moments in the narrative together in a single frame: in John’s account Mary stays ‘without’ the tomb and stoops to look inside (v. 11); she then turns around and sees Jesus but mistakes him for a gardener (v. 14). Although Blake has placed Mary on the threshold of the tomb, she is at the bottom of a flight of steps leading down to it, and so she is not stooping; Jesus stands at the top of the steps above her.

Blake has probably chosen this arrangement for compositional reasons: the design’s symmetry is characteristic of Blake’s ‘gothic’ style in this period. Indeed, this watercolour is one of six similarly symmetrical and near-monochrome designs of the death and resurrection of Christ which seem to form a sub-group within the series of biblical watercolours (The Crucifixion and the following designs – not including #499 or #503 – viewable via the Blake Archive).

Blake’s use of composition may also make a theological point. Jesus and Mary are directly aligned in the central vertical portion of the design; their arm gestures are almost identical and there is eye contact between them (see the Blake Archive’s image enlargement). This may be an expression of Blake’s idea that every person is an embodiment of Jesus – as articulated, for example, in his statement to Henry Crabb Robinson that Jesus ‘Is the only God… And so am I and so are you’[3] and his aphorism ‘The Eternal Body of Man is The Imagination. that is God himself | ישע Jesus | The Divine Body | we are his Members’.[4] So we might read Mary Magdalene here as a member of Jesus’ Divine Body, making the design not only ‘mere’ illustration but also a vehicle for Blake’s own ideas.

Any readers in the New Haven (Connecticut, USA) area will be able to see this work in the exhibition ‘The Critique of Reason: Romantic Art, 1760-1860’ between 6 March and 26 July at the Yale University Art Gallery this year.

[1] Cf. Martin Butlin, The Paintings and Drawings of William Blake (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981): nos. 433-526.

[2] David Bindman, Blake as an Artist (Oxford: Phaidon, 1977): 144.

[3] William Blake to Henry Crabb Robinson, December 1825, in G. E. Bentley, Jr. Blake Records (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2nd Ed. 2004): 421.

[4] William Blake, ‘The Laocoön’, in David V. Erdman (ed.), The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake (New York: Doubleday, 1988): 273 and available via the Blake Archive.

 

 

Third RIN Symposium ‘The Literary Galleries’: REGISTRATION OPEN

Romantic Illustration Network Symposium
The Literary Galleries: Entrepreneurship and Public Art’
Supported by the University of Roehampton, the Bibliographical Society, and Tate Britain

We are  pleased to announce that the third RIN symposium is now OPEN for REGISTRATION.

Friday 27th February 2015, 10am – 5pm
Board Room and Duffield Room, Tate Britain,
Millbank, London SW1P 4RG

This symposium brings 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 (Romantic Caricature, 2013), Luisa Cale (‘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?

Registration:

Places are FREE but limited to 15 in total, excluding speakers and organisers. This is due to restricted access to the Print Room. To secure your place, please email Mary.Shannon@roehampton.ac.uk, providing your name, status/job title, and institution (for name badges). Places will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and you will receive email notification. However, there will also be a waiting list. If you are unable to take up your place, please NOTIFY US BY EMAIL IN GOOD TIME so that someone else on the list may be offered your place.

We are able to offer 2 postgraduate ‘Bibliographical Society Studentships’ of £60 each to assist with the cost of attending at the symposium. Postgraduate students who live outside London are eligible. To apply, please send a CV and a statement (200 words) to Mary.Shannon@roehampton.ac.uk by Friday 6th February explaining your current research and its relevance to the interests of the Romantic Illustration Network as well as to the aims of the Bibliographical Society. Successful applicants will be notified by Tuesday 10th February.

Subject to permissions, we are hoping to record proceedings for the benefit of those unable to attend.

Programme:
10.00 Registration: meet at Staff Entrance (see map) to transfer to Board Room
10.15
Rosie Dias (Warwick), ‘Viewers, Patrons, Readers, Consumers? John Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery and its Public’
Ian Haywood (Roehampton), ‘Macklin’s Poets Gallery and the age of Terror’
11.45 tea and coffee
12.15 Luisa Calè (Birkbeck), ‘The Hours’
1-2 Lunch (attendees to make own arrangements)
2.00 Frederick Burwick (UCLA), ‘Painting and Performance: Tableaux Vivants on the London Stage’
3pm Tours of Print Room and Galleries, led by Tate facilitators
4.00 Martin Myrone (Tate), ‘Blake and the Limits of Illustration’
4.45 Open Discussion
5pm Close. Please join us for a drink nearby.

For a full programme and a map of the venue, visit https://romanticillustrationnetwork.wordpress.com/events/