The Eighteenth Century in the Current Issue of ‘Art History’

Posted in books, journal articles, reviews by Editor on February 28, 2010

Kate Retford, “A Death in the Family: Posthumous Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century England,” Art History 33 (February 2010): 74-97.

Joseph Highmore, "The Lee Family," 1736. Oil on canvas, 243.8 × 289.6 cm. (Wolverhampton Art Gallery)

Abstract: This article explores a number of unusual portraits produced in eighteenth-century England in which the realms of the posthumous and the living were mingled. In some cases, the dead were brought ‘back to life’ and restored to their rightful place in the family unit. In others, such as Joseph Highmore’s portrait of The Lee Family (1736), Thomas Gainsborough’s The Sloper Family (1787–88) or The Knatchbull Family by John Singleton Copley (1800–03), they were included in spiritualized form, hovering in a supernatural realm above the relatives they had left behind on terra firma. The article unpicks the particular circumstances that prompted these extraordinary commissions, exploring the personal and emotional histories of the sitters and artists. It also draws conclusions about the broader social, cultural, religious and artistic contexts that made these relatively rare, and frequently problematic images.

Kate Retford is Lecturer in History of Art at Birkbeck College, University of London. Her book, The Art of Domestic Life: Family Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century England, was published by Yale University Press in 2006. In addition, she has written a number of articles on topics relating to eighteenth-century portraiture, gender, and the country house art collection.

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Review of Ephemeral Bodies: Wax Sculpture and the Human Figure, with a translation of Julius von Schlosser’s “History of Portraiture in Wax,” edited by Roberta Panzanelli (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, 2008), pp. 170-72.

Reviewed by Matthew Bowman (lecturer at the University of Essex and co-founding editor of Rebus: Journal of Art History and Theory)

Most of the eight contributions in “Ephemeral Bodies” were originally presented in a workshop held at the Getty Research Institute in 2004. The texts examine the utilization of wax to depict the human body (in whole and in part, internally and externally) from a variety of methodological perspectives in accordance with the very different uses to which wax has been put. This includes considerations of wax sculpture from medical, anatomical, art-historical, philosophical, anthropological and political standpoints. From an art historian’s viewpoint, wax has not really figured in the discipline of art history. Indeed, it is curious that Julius von Schlosser’s stimulating “Geschichte der Porträtbildnerei in Wachs” (“History of Portraiture in Wax”), which originally came out in 1911 and which is published here for the first time in English, remains the central art-historical text on the production of wax sculptural objects. Ephemeral Bodies is, therefore, not only a useful scholarly collection on a neglected topic but also an opportunity to gauge and expand the theoretical presuppositions of art history as a discipline. . .

For additional contents, click here»

Jean Raoux Retrospective

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on February 27, 2010

Jean Raoux, virtuose et sensuel (1677-1734)
Musée Fabre de Montpellier, 28 November 2009 – 11 April 2010

Jean Raoux est avec Sébastien Bourdon, Joseph-Marie Vien, François-Xavier Fabre et Frédéric Bazille, l’un des grands artistes français originaires du Languedoc. Ce peintre, contemporain d’Antoine Watteau, participa de manière active au renouvellement de la peinture française au temps de la Régence. Virtuose, sensuel, élégant, Jean Raoux mérite que sa ville natale lui consacre une exposition d’envergure.

Cette première rétrospective réunit les plus beaux chefs-d’oeuvre de l’artiste provenant des grands musées français, mais aussi de collections allemandes, autrichiennes, italiennes, anglaises, américaines et russes. De provenance prestigieuse, rarement montrés, les tableaux de cette exposition dévoilent l’étendue de son talent de portraitiste de l’aristocratie, du monde du spectacle, de peintre de sujets historiques et religieux, mais aussi de scènes de genre à la manière hollandaise. Sa poésie exalte la beauté de la femme, qu’elle soit héroïne de la mythologie ou coquette vaquant à ses occupations quotidiennes. Cette sélection permet de mettre en lumière les multiples facettes de cet artiste célèbre en son temps et estimé de Voltaire.

Qui est Jean Raoux ?

Né à Montpellier en 1677, Raoux a continué sa formation à Paris dans le grand atelier de Bon Boullongne. De 1705 à 1714, il séjourne à Rome, Padoue et Venise où il répond à d’importantes commandes de peintures mythologique et religieuse. De retour à Paris en 1714, il entre à l’Académie et reçoit la protection du Grand Prieur de l’Ordre de Malte, le libertin Philippe de Vendôme et travaille aussi pour le régent Philippe d’Orléans. Ses portraits, ses scènes de genre très poétiques et d’une exécution virtuose témoignent de l’esprit de ce milieu qu’il fréquente, à la fois léger, féminin et parfois mélancolique.

Exhibition Catalogue: Michel Hilaire and Olivier Zeder, Jean Raoux, 1677-1734 (Paris: Somogy, 2009), ISBN: 9782757202876, $58.95 (for an English description and a link to purchase the catalogue, click here»)

Print Culture and the American South

Posted in conferences (to attend), graduate students, opportunities by Editor on February 27, 2010

2010 Summer Seminar in the History of the Book:
The Global American South
 & Early American Print Culture

American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA, 14- 18 June 2010

Applications due by 12 March 2010

What happens when we view the imagined community of U.S. print culture from the vantage point of the South? How might such a reoriented book history challenge emerging transatlantic, transnational, and cosmopolitan histories of the U.S.? At a moment when industrial print culture was consolidating itself in the Northeast, “the South” appeared in print on several spatial scales. While asserting an “American” identity, Southerners represented themselves as a sectional alternative to the nation. Boasting a distinctive regional culture, they simultaneously celebrated local diversity. The seminar will investigate how these complementary practices of national, regional, and local self-definition circuited through print cultural conditions on the ground. How, we will ask, did distribution, copyright, authorship, and reading inflect the South’s sectional self-fashioning, its attempt to lay claim to the nation, and its engagements with the wider world?

We can hear echoes of Southern print culture’s sectional and local accents in the American Antiquarian Society’s unsurpassed periodical holdings, which also allow us to track the printed South’s circulation, reception, and representation throughout the nation. The seminar will benefit from the AAS’ wealth of ephemeral print propaganda on the South’s major political crises: Indian removal, the slavery controversy, and nullification/secession. Finally, the seminar will provide an introduction to the Tinker Collection’s rich holdings in Francophone Louisiana materials-from legal ordinance digests to an original copy of Les Cenelles. (more…)

Exhibition on Cook’s Voyages

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on February 26, 2010

James Cook and the Exploration of the Pacific / James Cook und die Entdeckung der Südsee
Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bonn, 28 August 2009 — 28 February 2010
Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Ethnology), Vienna, 10 May — 13 September 2010
Historisches Museum, Bern, 7 October 2010 — 13 February 2011

The British navigator and explorer James Cook (1728–1779) is famous for having led three expeditions into the vast and uncharted waters of the Pacific Ocean. He was the first to survey and map New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific islands, completing our modern image of the world and refuting once and for all the existence of a mythical Southern Continent.

William Hodges, The War-Boats of the Island of Otaheite, Tahiti, 1777, © National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Ministry of Defence Art Collection

An interdisciplinary presentation of the Age of Enlightenment
The exhibition focuses on the European perspective on the newly discovered worlds. In the spirit of the Age of Enlightenment, it seeks to bring together and crosslink for the first time research results from a wide range of disciplines, such as natural history, maritime history, art history and early ethnology. Cook’s expeditions into the South Seas brought about a fundamental change in the way Europe saw the world and ushered in the dawn of modern Europe under the auspices of the Enlightenment belief in the power of progress.

It is to Cook and the naturalists, scholars and draughtsmen who took part in his three expeditions that Europeans owe the first systematic, reliable maps and the earliest comprehensive surveys of the geological structures and the flora and fauna of the Pacific islands. Similarly, the encounters with the people ‘on the other side of the world’ were described and documented in a degree of detail never before attempted.

A breast ornament from the Society Islands. © The Cook/Forster Collection, University of Göttingen

Objects from all over the world recount Cook’s expeditions
A fascinating selection of some 550 objects and artefacts recount the pioneering voyages of James Cook and his international team of scientists. By the end of the 18th century the ethnographic and natural history objects collected from many different Pacific cultures during the three Cook voyages had been dispersed among collections all over Europe. The exhibition in Bonn brings them back together for the first time in over two hundred years. Another important first is the cooperation between the leading British ethnographic collections in Oxford, London and Cambridge and their counterparts on the Continent – above all the collections of Göttingen, Vienna and Bern – as well as other museums worldwide.

Many of the exquisite feather ornaments, wooden sculptures and other Oceanic artefacts are of incalculable value to art historians, since comparable objects have all but disappeared from the Pacific region. Made before the fateful encounter with the Europeans, these objects allow present-day Pacific cultures to assert or rediscover their own identity in today’s globalised world.

The ethnographic items are complemented by magnificent paintings and drawings by the artists accompanying Cook on his voyages. These works capture the unique mix of euphoria and inquisitiveness that characterised the explorers’ encounter with the exotic world of the South Seas. Ship models, original sea charts and navigation instruments bring to life James Cook’s daring voyages into the unknown. Alongside spectacular loans from the National Maritime Museum, the Natural History Museum and the British Library in London, the Art and Exhibition Hall is delighted to have secured the loan of items of Cook’s personal property from Australia. (more…)

Private Collection of Decorative Arts in San Francisco

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on February 25, 2010

In its January 2010 issue, The Magazine Antiques profiles a remarkable collection of eighteenth-century decorative arts. It’s notable both for the quality of the objects–including a looking glass from Spencer House–and the fact that the Met’s Wrightsman Galleries (just recently reinstalled) provided the design inspiration. As Martin Chapman writes:

View of the entrance hall, with a grouping of objects around a large gilded wood jardiniere attributed to Giuseppe Maria Bonzanigo (1749-1820) of Turin. Photo by Aya Brackett.

One of California’s finest collections of eighteenth-century English and European decorative arts is to be found in San Francisco in a large Queen Anne revival house in Pacific Heights. Carefully chosen to evoke the atmosphere of an English country house or a French château, these objects shine brilliantly against the dark brown paneling in the main rooms. When the eminent San Francisco decorator Michael Taylor (1927-1986) worked here in the 1960s, the first thing he wanted to do was bleach the paneling to off-white tones, but the owners persisted with their original idea of preserving the dark character of the walls to act as a foil for their collections. The results are extremely effective. These rich and jewellike interiors were achieved with the services of another notable San Francisco decorator, Anthony Hail (1925-2006). They work most beautifully at night when warm subtle lighting provides an entrancing background for the objects.

On the opposite wall of the entrance hall is an English Palladian looking glass attributed to John Vardy (1718-1765), ca. 1755-1758, one of a pair from Spencer House, London. The neoclassical console table, also one of a pair, is stamped by Georges Jacob (1739-1814, m. 1765), the Chinese porcelain cachepot has French mounts of the 1840s, and the chinoiserie mirrored wall sconces were formerly in Government House in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Aya Brackett.

What strikes the visitor most about the main rooms is the owners’ extraordinary facility for choosing fine objects and putting them together in striking groupings. This singular talent was found most famously in the work of John Fowler (1906-1977), the English designer who did so much to create English country house taste after World War II. Almost as famous, and certainly as influential on the Continent, were the interiors of the amateur Carlos de Beistegui (1895-1970). Beistegui’s Proustian evocations of the past at the Château de Groussay outside Paris beginning in the 1940s were more formal than Fowler’s, although they retained the relaxed ambience of the English country house. But it was the Wrightsman Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that most directly influenced these collectors. They were so impressed by the installation of those galleries in the 1960s that they asked Hail to use them for inspiration in their house. In the last ten years the owners have made a series of acquisitions that have added another dimension to the interiors. The main rooms all combine comfort with a measure of formality, but it is the arrangements of objects that give
them scale and richness. . . .

For the full article and lots more photos, click here»

Free Access to ‘Early English Books Online’ until March 12

Posted in resources by Editor on February 25, 2010

Anna Battigelli, of Early Modern Online Bibliography, sends the following announcement:

Thanks to the generosity of Proquest, readers of EMOB will have free access to Early English Books Online from February 22 to March 12. We are hoping that this temporary access will generate discussion about EEBO, as it is used both in scholarship and the classroom.

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According to the ProQuest website:

Early English Books Online contains digital facsimile page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473-1700 — from the first book printed in English by William Caxton, through the age of Spenser and Shakespeare and the tumult of the English Civil War.

Details regarding access can be found here»

Starting in April: Jonathan Marsden to Direct the Royal Collection

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on February 24, 2010

As noted in a press release from the Royal Collection:

Her Majesty The Queen has appointed Mr. Jonathan Marsden to the position of Director Designate of the Royal Collection. Mr. Marsden, who is currently Deputy Surveyor of The Queen’s Works of Art, will succeed Sir Hugh Roberts as Director of the Royal Collection on Sir Hugh’s retirement in April 2010.

Jonathan Marsden joined the Royal Collection in 1996. He previously worked as a curator for the National Trust in North Wales and Oxfordshire. As Deputy Surveyor of The Queen’s Works of Art he has been responsible for the decorative arts collections in all the royal residences. He has published widely on sculpture, especially French bronzes, and on the history of collecting. He has contributed to a number of exhibitions at The Queen’s Gallery in London, including George III and Queen Charlotte in 2004.

He is currently working on an exhibition about Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, which opens at The Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace in March 2010.

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Jane Roberts (ed.), George III and Queen Charlotte; Patronage, Collecting  and Court Taste (The Royal Collection, 2004), ISBN: 1902163737.

Jonathan Marsden, ed., The Wisdom of George the Third:
Papers from a Symposium at the Queen’s Gallery,
Buckingham Palace
(Royal Collection, 2006), ISBN:

Abbey of Cluny after the Revolution

Posted in conferences (to attend) by Editor on February 24, 2010

Probably of interest to those of you working on medievalism and the nineteenth century, but the eighteenth century still matters here all the same:

Constructions, reconstructions et commémorations clunisiennes, 1790-2010
Théâtre de Cluny, Ville de Cluny, 13-15 May 2010

A colloquium on the theme of the 1100th anniversary of the foundation of the Abbey of Cluny will take place, consisting of papers by specialists on the abbey’s history. Along with the program provided below, more information can be found at the conference website.

THURSDAY, 13 May 2010

2:00 – 6:30, Restaurations et commémorations, 1790-2010

  • Jean-Luc Delpeuch (Mairie de Cluny), Accueil des participants.
  • Didier Méhu (Université Laval, Québec), Pourquoi (ne pas) commémorer ?
  • Dominique Iogna-Prat (CNRS, Paris / Auxerre), Commémorations clunisiennes, 1910-2010.
  • Yann Potin (Université Paris I – Panthéon-Sorbonne), La destruction de l’abbaye de Cluny ou la puissance du vide, 1790-1825.
  • Alain Rauwel (Université de Bourgogne, Dijon), Une tentative de restauration monastique à Cluny au XIXe siècle : Dom Mayeul Lamey.

FRIDAY, 14 May 2010

9:30 – 1:00, Cluny et la construction du discours scientifique aux XIXe et XXe siècles

  • Isabelle Vernus (Archives départementales de Saône-et-Loire, Mâcon), Les monumenta clunisiens : le sort des archives de Cluny.
  • Alain Guerreau (CNRS, Paris), Les recherches sur Cluny au XXe siècle : la balkanisation et ses conséquences.
  • Daniel Russo (Université de Bourgogne, Dijon), Cluny dans l’histoire de l’art français d’Émile Mâle à Henri Focillon.
  • Kathryn Brush (London, Ontario, University of Western Ontario), Arthur Kingsley Porter et la genèse de sa vision de Cluny.

2:45 – 7:00, Reconstructions émotionnelles et littéraires

  • Janet Marquardt (Charleston, Illinois, Eastern Illinois University), Du martyr au monument : les reconstructions romantiques.
  • Nicolas Reveyron (Université Lumière – Lyon II, Institut universitaire de France), François Cucherat, l’autre fils de Semur.
  • Laurent Baridon (Université Pierre Mendès-France – Grenoble II) et Didier Méhu (Université Laval, Québec), Viollet-le-Duc et Cluny.
  • Elizabeth Emery (Montclair, New Jersey, Montclair State University), Cluny dans la littérature française du XIXe siècle.
  • François Amy de la Bretèque (Université Paul Valéry – Montpellier III), Chronique d’une absence : Cluny, les moines et le cinéma.

SATURDAY, 15 May 2010

9:30 – 1:00, Reconstructions et présentations contemporaines

  • Frédéric Didier (Monuments historiques, Paris), Les enjeux des restaurations et reconstructions monumentales de l’abbaye de Cluny.
  • Guillaume Schotté et Jean-François Coulais (ENSAM, Cluny), Les enjeux des reconstitutions virtuelles de l’église abbatiale, de la ville et de l’environnement urbain de Cluny.
  • Table ronde conclusive: Commémoration, patrimoine et histoire.

New Titles

Posted in books by Editor on February 23, 2010

Selected books from a recent Michael Shamansky catalogue (15 February 2010)

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Anthony Gerbino, François Blondel: Architecture, Erudition, and the Scientific Revolution (London: Routledge, 2009), ISBN: 9780415491990, 344 pages, $135.

First director of the Académie royale d’architecture, François Blondel established a lasting model for architectural education that helped transform a still largely medieval profession into the one we recognize today. Most well known for his 1676 urban plan of Paris, Blondel is also celebrated as a mathematician, scientist, and scholar. Few figures are more representative of the close affinity between architecture and the “new science” of the seventeenth century. The first full-length study in English to appear on this polymath, this book adds to the scholarship on early modern architectural history and particularly on French classicism under Louis XIV and his minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert. It studies early modern science and technology, Baroque court culture, and the development of the discipline of

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Andrea De Pasquale and Giovanni Godi, eds., Il Ducato in Scena, Parma 1769: Feste, libri, politica (Parma, Step, 2009), 241 pages, ISBN: 887898048X, $115.

Exhibition held at Biblioteca Palatina, Parma. Includes:

  • Parma laboratorio di matrimoni tra Borbone e Asburgo per garantire trenta anni di pace all’Europa
  • Arti a corte nel primo periodo ferdinandeo 1765-1771
  • La nascita della Biblioteca Parmense
  • Gli esordi della Stamperia Reale
  • Le ricerche archeologiche a Parma negli anni ’70 del XVIII secolo
  • Teatro e spettacolo all’epoca di Du Tillot.

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Liliana Barroero, ed., Intorno a Batoni: Convegno internazionale, Roma, 3 e 4 marzo 2009, Atti (Lucca: Edizioni Fondazione Ragghianti Studi sull’arte, 2009. 270 pages, ISBN: 9788889324233, $38.50.

  • G. Fusari “Pompeo Batoni e il cardinale Angelo Maria Querini”
  • C. Parretti “Batoni tra Orsini e Ludovisi: Il ritratto della duchessa d’Arce e i restauri del Guercino”
  • S. Benedetti “Pier Leone Ghezzi, il giovane Reynolds e i primi ‘milordi’ di Pompeo Batoni”
  • C. Hornsby “Serving ‘lovers of the Virtu’ – Barazzi, Batoni and the British Dealers”
  • J. Seydl “Contesting the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Late 18th-Century Rome”
  • J. Collins “Know Thy Time: Batoni and Pius VI”
  • Etc.

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John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Later Stuart Portraits, 1685–1714 (London: National Portrait Gallery, Lund Humphries, 2010), 432 pages, ISBN: 9781855144101, $250.

Sitters who are featured in this comprehensive catalogue of portraits from the premier collections of the National Portrait Gallery, London, include the Duke of Marlborough, Admirals Benbow and Shovell, Archbishop Sancroft (who led the Seven Bishops against James II), John Locke, Isaac Newton, John Vanbrugh and Christopher Wren. Also catalogued are the fearsome Judge Jeffreys, the composer Henry Purcell and diarists Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn. The writers include John Dryden, Mathew Prior, Joseph Addison and Richard Steele and the painters Godfrey Kneller and Michael Dahl. This volume completely revises the second half of David Piper’s Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery, published in 1963. Academic research since then has resulted in both several changes of identity and attribution. It has also facilitated more comprehensive surveys of each sitter’s portraiture. In presenting this research, the author John Ingamells offers new discoveries, insights and observations to create an invaluable historical resource.

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Marcia Pointon, Brilliant Effects: A Cultural History of Gem Stones and Jewellery (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2009), 426 pages, ISBN: 9780300142785, $85.

In a broad-ranging and exceptional work of cultural and art history, Marcia Pointon explores what owning, wearing, distributing, and circulating gems and jewelry has meant in the post-Renaissance history of Europe. She examines the capacity of jewels not only to fascinate but also to create disorder and controversy throughout history and across cultures. Pointon argues that what is materially precious is invariably contentious. When what is precious is a finely crafted artifact made from hard-won imported materials, the stakes become particularly high—evidenced, for example, by the political fallout from Marie-Antoinette’s implication in the affair of the stolen diamond necklace. Prodigiously rich in its range of reference and truly interdisciplinary in its approach, this book challenges the reader to reassess the importance of material things as powerful agents in human relations and in visual and verbal representation.

Picturing the West Indies

Posted in books, reviews by Editor on February 22, 2010

The following review appeared at caa.reviews in December (I’m sorry it slipped my notice earlier — C.H.).

Kay Dian Kriz, Slavery, Sugar, and the Culture of Refinement: Picturing the British West Indies, 1700–1840 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press in association with Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 2008), 288 pages, ISBN: 9780300140620, $75.

Reviewed by Stephanie Shestakow, College of New Jersey; posted 15 December 2009.

A statue of Sir Hans Sloane stands at the center of London’s Chelsea Physic Garden where all variety of plants vie for attention. Sloane demonstrated his talent for gathering specimens (like those over which his statue presides) in his resplendently detailed title, ‘Voyage to the Islands Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers, and Jamaica, with the Natural History of the Herbs and Trees, Four-footed Beasts, Fishes, Birds, Insects, Reptiles Etc. of the Last of those Islands’ (vol. 1, 1707; vol. 2, 1725) which serves as both travel log and visual natural history, a manifestation of the eighteenth-century desire to index the world. Kay Dian Kriz begins ‘Slavery, Sugar and the Culture of Refinement: Picturing the British West Indies, 1700–1840’ with Sloane’s folio in order to explore the visual strategies used to represent the West Indies in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. In contrast to the abundance of scholarship addressing icons like the kneeling slave and the slave ship, Kriz’s study is aimed at the imagery designed to promote the colonial project in the West Indies, and it makes a remarkable new contribution to this area of study.

Through five chapters plus an introduction and afterword, Kriz charts both high and low artistic attempts to convey competing views of the Caribbean to the English public. She draws on a rich array of glossy color and black-and-white images ranging from graphic satires to natural history illustrations (and other images generally categorized outside the realm of “art”) as she discusses paintings and prints associated with the British West Indies that were produced around the campaign to abolish the slave trade. Just as raw sugar cane was refined into white crystals, artists portrayed island inhabitants as an often savage, overly sexualized, and unruly people who could be refined through colonials. Yet Kriz’s work also transcends the binary of metropolitan center and colonial outpost (the polite society of London versus the impolite colonial settlement) by addressing representations that confirmed and contested what she deems the dominant spatial model. These include paintings and prints that “proffered the possibility of social refinement in these British island colonies, not just economic profit and sexual pleasure” (4). . . .

For the full review click here»

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