Lecture | Douglas Fordham on Aquatint Empires

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on May 15, 2016


Thomas Daniell, “Part of the Kanaree [Kanheri] Caves, Salsette,” handcoloured aquatint, from Oriental Scenery, 1799. 

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This week at the Paul Mellon Centre:

Douglas Fordham, Aquatint Empires
The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, 18 May 2016

This talk considers the importance of what used to be known as ‘English Coloured Books’ to the conceptualization and visualization of the British Empire. Particular attention will be given to aquatint as a medium, and the ways in which this tonal intaglio process encouraged certain types of visual themes, historical narratives, and viewer responses. Making particular use of the J.R. Abbey collection of ‘Travel in Aquatint and Lithography’ in the Yale Center for British Art, this project explores the production and reception of three ambitious and beautifully illustrated publications: Thomas Daniell’s Hindoo Excavations (1803), William Alexander’s Costume of China (1805), and Samuel Daniell’s African Scenery and Animals (1804–05). This talk asks what these publications might reveal about Britain’s place in the world following the Treaty of Amiens. More broadly, it considers seriality as empire: how did elaborate aquatint publications colour British visions of Africa, Asia, and beyond?

Douglas Fordham is the author of British Art and the Seven Years’ War: Allegiance and Autonomy (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010) and a co-editor with Tim Barringer and Geoff Quilley of Art and the British Empire (Manchester University Press, 2007). He has published articles relating to British art, visual culture, and empire in Art History, The Art Bulletin, Representations, Oxford Art Journal, and elsewhere.

All are welcome! However, places are limited; so if you would like to attend, please book a place in advance. The seminar will be followed by a drinks reception. Wednesday, 18 May 2016, 6:00–8:00pm.

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