Reviewed: Fordham’s ‘British Art and the Seven Years’ War’

Posted in books, Member News, reviews by Editor on January 9, 2012

Recently added to caa.reviews:

Douglas Fordham, British Art and the Seven Years’ War: Allegiance and Autonomy (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), 352 pages, ISBN: 9780812242430, $65.

Reviewed by Kay Dian Kriz, Brown University; posted 8 December 2011.

In ‘British Art and the Seven Years’ War: Allegiance and Autonomy’, Douglas Fordham offers an original and provocative re-interpretation of the emergence of public art and art institutions in eighteenth-century Britain. Scholars have long noted that the 1750s and 1760s were marked by increasing concern about the development and institutionalization of a school of British art. “Why,” Fordham asks, “did the visual arts become a pressing national concern at this moment in Britain’s history?” (1) He argues that any answer to such a question must take into account the “transformative place in British culture” (2) occupied by the Seven Years’ War, which was fought in the middle of this time period (1756–63). And indeed, cultural, political, and military history were deeply intertwined at this moment when the British Empire in America was firmly secured through a war that has largely been overlooked by art historians.

Books about art and war usually focus on military painting; Fordham’s book is much more expansive and ambitious, being concerned with the effects of militarism on the development and organization of the arts, as well as on their subject matter. . . .

The full review is available here» (CAA membership required)

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