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.
 

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).

CFP: ‘Illustrating History / Illustrer l’histoire’, Université de Valenciennes, 4 Dec. 2015

‘Illustrating History / Illustrer l’histoire’

Université de Valenciennes

4 Dec, 2015 (Abstracts due 30 June, 2015)

The scholarly research group Illustr4tio, supported by CALHISTE (EA 4343), is pleased to announce a one-day symposium on “Illustrating history/ Illustrer l’histoire” and invites papers on the topic.

Following the first symposium on “The Birth of Images” (Dijon 2014) and the one on
“Literary Illustration Between Texts and Paintings” (Mulhouse/Strasbourg 2015), the event to be held at the university of Valenciennes on 4 December 2015 aims to explore the relationship between history, the visual arts and the act of illustrating. Central to this symposium will be exchanges about the status, form and function of such illustrations in a variety of media, whether early modern prints or contemporary graphic novels. Should we apprehend illustrations to Shakespeare’s history plays differently from engravings in Walter Scott’s or Charles Dickens’ novels?

Questions addressing « illustrating history » may cover the following areas, though not exclusively so :

• Illustrating history and series or cycles as opposed to single pieces (painting, furniture print)

• Illustrating history when one is experiencing the historic moment, for instance, war

diaries, illustrated correspondence

• History’s most frequently illustrated key moments : riots, revolutions, battles

• Historical figures illustrated in their biographies (form and function of such illustrations)

• How does illustrated history convey ideological and institutional discourses through

school textbooks, history books, dictionary entries, encyclopaedia ?

• Illustrations in critical literature on history

• Historians as artists and illustrators

• Illustrating history and illustrating fiction : contact or clash? Symbiosis and hybridation ?

• Material culture and the circulation of objects illustrating history

• How does history apprehend illustration ?

• History in graphic novels

• Illustrating historical fiction (Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Robert Graves, etc)

• Illustrating history as a discourse on memory and contact or clash between several periodicities

We will be happy to listen to word-and-image scholars, historians, artists, and illustrators alike. There is no preferred methodology or theoretical approach but papers that are interdisciplinary and broach the topic from an intercultural angle will be most welcome. For the full CFP see our website Illustr4tio.

Deadline for abstracts (300-400 words): 30 June 2015

Abstracts (English or French) should simultaneously be sent to all members of Illustr4tio, with a short bio and bibliography :

Brigitte Friant Kessler, Brigitte.friant-kessler@univ-valenciennes.fr, and b.friant@free.fr,

Sophie Aymes Stokes, Sophie.Aymes@u-bourgogne.fr,

Nathalie Collé, nathalie.colle@univ-lorraine.fr

Maxime Leroy, maxime.leroy@uha.fr.

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.

New RIN member publication: Sandro Jung, ‘James Thomson’s The Seasons, Print Culture, and Visual Interpretation, 1730-1842’

New RIN member publication: Special Promotion 

Sandro Jung, James Thomson’s The Seasons, Print Culture, and Visual Interpretation, 1730-1842 (Lehigh University Press, May 2015)

Get 20% off with this downloadable flyer.

“Sandro Jung’s study of The Seasons is a fresh and stimulating history of the publishing and marketing of one of the most popular texts of the eighteenth century. But it is also far more than that. This book radically extends our understanding of the cultural and economic value of Thomson’s poem by investigating its visual readings and its complex cultural afterlife within and far beyond Britain as the poem’s imagery morphed across an astonishing range of visual arts, including engravings in books, prints, cartoons, ceramics, furniture, and music. The result is a persuasive demonstration of the intersections between technology, aesthetics, commerce, market, and reception.”

— James Raven, University of Essex and Magdalene College, University of Cambridge

“Here is the writing of a fresh new chapter in the scholarship of The Seasons. Consideration of print, paratexts, pictures, price, and pocket diaries all make for the richest contextualisation yet of the production and consumption of James Thomson’s poetic masterpiece from its first appearance to the early decades of the nineteenth century.”

— Gerard Carruthers, Francis Hutcheson Professor of Scottish Literature, University of Glasgow

Drawing on the methods of textual and reception studies, book history, print culture research, and visual culture, this interdisciplinary study of James Thomson’s The Seasons (1730) understands the text as marketable commodity and symbolic capital which throughout its extended affective presence in the marketplace for printed literary editions shaped reading habits. At the same time, through the addition of paratexts such as memoirs of Thomson, notes, and illustrations, it was recast by changing readerships, consumer fashions, and ideologies of culture. The book investigates the poem’s cultural afterlife by charting the prominent place it occupied in the visual cultures of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Britain. While the emphasis of the chapters is on printed visual culture in the form of book illustrations, the book also features discussions of paintings and other visual media such as furniture prints. Reading illustrations of iconographic moments from The Seasons as paratextual, interpretive commentaries that reflect multifarious reading practices as well as mentalities, the chapters contextualise the editions in light of their production and interpretive inscription. They introduce these editions’ publishers and designers who conceived visual translations of the text, as well as the engravers who rendered these designs in the form of the engraving plate from which the illustration could then be printed. Where relevant, the chapters introduce non-British illustrated editions to demonstrate in which ways foreign booksellers were conscious of British editions of The Seasons and negotiated their illustrative models in the sets of engraved plates they commissioned for their volumes.

About the Author

Sandro Jung is research professor of early modern British literature and founding director of the Centre for the Study of Text and Print Culture at Ghent University.

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.

Thoughts wanted: Eighteenth-Century Book Illustration Reader

From Dr. Christina Ionescu, Associate Professor Modern Languages and Literatures, Mount Allison University:

Dear colleagues,

Leigh G. Dillard and I are engaged in the planning stages of a reader on eighteenth-century book illustration that would encompass various traditions (English, French, German, Spanish, etc.). In order to best position the reader, we would be most grateful if those of you who work on book illustration (and perhaps also teach courses on the subject) could provide some feedback on our preliminary ideas.

You could write to us directly (cionescu@mta.ca and Leigh.Dillard@ung.edu) and we will compile a report for the SHARP list.

1) Would you use such a reader in a course? What type of course would you consider using it in? Would your library be interested in purchasing it?

2) Do you have any suggestions about its contents? Any specific texts that you believe should be included? Any translations of seminal texts that we should commission?

This is what is currently on our list:

i) some relevant excerpts from nineteenth-century texts (Dibdin, the Goncourt brothers, etc.)

ii) some reprints/translations of key chapters from important 1980s/1990s studies on eighteenth-century book illustration (Hodnett, Ph. Stewart, etc.)

iii) theoretical approaches to book illustration as it pertains to the chosen timeframe (e.g. book illustration and word and image, book illustration and book history, book illustration and visual culture, etc.)

iv) the mechanics of book illustration (etching, woodcut, copperplate engraving, frontispieces, colour plates, etc.)

v) illustrators (Stothard, Marillier, Chodowiecki, Gravelot, Hogarth, Cochin, etc.)

vi) genres (illustrated travelogues, gothic novels, sentimental fiction, erotica, etc.)

vii) examples of eighteenth-century illustrated bestsellers (The Sentimental Journey, La Nouvelle Héloïse, etc.)

viii) overviews by geographical region (illustration in England, France, Spain, etc.)

3) Would you be interested in contributing a chapter? (The deadline for submission of chapters will likely be December 2016.)

Many thanks,
Christina and Leigh

CFP: ‘Romanticism and the Arts’ SAMLA, Durham, North Carolina, USA (13-15 Nov. 2015)

Call for Papers
‘Romanticism and the Arts’
an affiliated session of the Keats-Shelley Association of America South Atlantic Modern Language Association Conference
Durham, North Carolina, USA (13-15 Nov. 2015)
Deadline: 15 May 2015

This panel seeks papers related to second-generation Romantic-era British writers and/or their literary circles, so proposals addressing the works of John Keats, Percy and Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, Leigh Hunt, and William Hazlitt will receive priority. Proposals that engage with the conference theme (“In Concert: Literature and the Other Arts”) are especially welcome. Subjects to be considered might include (but are not limited to) Romantic literature in relation to music, concerts, songs, painting, engravings, caricatures, drawings, panoramas, book arts, calligraphy, dance, theatre, opera, architecture, sculpture, china, pottery, ceramics, textiles, and, in later contexts, electronic art, film, and photography.

Please send a 250-word abstract, bio or CV (one page only), and audio-visual requests to Ben P. Robertson, Troy University, (bprobertson@troy.edu) by 15 May 2015.