Enfilade

Catherine Roach, “Working-Class Interpreters of Elite Collections”

Posted in journal articles by Editor on June 6, 2015

From the latest posting at Homes Subjects:

Catherine Roach, “Working-Class Interpreters of Elite Collections,” Home Subjects: A Working Group Dedicated to the Display of Art in the Private Interior, c. 1715–1914 (4 June 2015).

A_Greenwich_Pensioner

A Greenwich Pensioner showing the Thornhill decorations in the Painted Hall to a family of visitors. Coloured etching by T. Rowlandson after [J. N.] Esq, 1807
(London: The Wellcome Institute)

Historic collections (and their present-day avatars, historic homes) are seductive. This field of study offers imaginative possession of desirable ensembles. In this, we are all like Eliza Bennet at Pemberley, imagining what we could have been mistress of, if things had been different. But, as curators of historic homes have come to realize in recent years, history need not be sanitized to interest visitors, or to interest us. Displays in historic homes have begun, haltingly but laudably, to grapple with the social systems that made such dwellings possible, including the enslavement of millions of people. The history of collecting can do the same. . . .

Catherine Roach is Assistant Professor of the History of Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.  Her first book, Pictures-within-Pictures in Nineteenth-Century Britain, is forthcoming from Ashgate Press.  She is currently working on a history of the British Institution.

The full posting is available here»

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