Enfilade

Lecture | Matthew Reeve, ‘Children of Strawberry’

Posted in lectures (to attend) by Editor on September 24, 2019

Next month at BGC:

Matthew Reeve, ‘Children of Strawberry’: Replication and Referentiality in the English Gothic Revival / The Lee B. Anderson Memorial Lecture on the Gothic
Bard Graduate Center, New York, 16 October 2019

John Carter, The Tribune at Strawberry Hill, ca. 1789 (Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University).

Matthew M. Reeve will deliver the inaugural Lee B. Anderson Memorial Lecture on the Gothic on Wednesday, October 16, at 6pm. His talk is entitled “‘Children of Strawberry’: Replication and Referentiality in the English Gothic Revival.”

Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill (begun 1747) established a significant template for subsequent Gothic buildings. Eliding the persona of a famous author, antiquary, and connoisseur with an extraordinary Gothic villa, it would be emulated in a long list of commissions from c. 1750 into the twentieth century. In Reeve’s recent work he has explored the place of homoerotic coteries in the formation of the Gothic idiom—and more broadly of medievalism—within Walpole’s milieu. Walpole’s queer coterie would disseminate the Gothic style in Georgian London from c. 1750–1790 in a handful of buildings that followed in Strawberry Hill’s wake. For Walpole, these buildings were “Children of Strawberry,” the offspring of his famous home. This was grounded in the construction of Walpole’s coterie as a ‘queer family’, a sexual rather than biological construction of kinship. Sexuality was, however, only one possible signification of Strawberry Hill and Strawberry Hill Gothic, and the house’s reception history indicates that the meanings of the house morphed to adapt to different needs of patrons. The apparent ‘queerness’ of these buildings and of the Gothic generally, would change significantly around 1800 and be reframed in the light of the religious and social reforms that shaped the Victorian Gothic Revival. Taking the ‘long view’ of Walpole’s famous home, this lecture considers the changing meanings of the Gothic on either side of c. 1800 and in so doing offers a new perspective on the shaping of ‘the Gothic Revival’.

Matthew M. Reeve is Associate Professor and Queen’s National Scholar of Art History at Queen’s University and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. Beginning at the University of Toronto, he moved to Cambridge for his graduate work under Paul Binski and taught at the University of Toronto and the University of London. His research has long been divided between medieval art (proper) and episodes of medievalism in Western art. His first books were on Gothic architecture and wall painting and he has recently completed Gothic Architecture and Sexuality in the Circle of Horace Walpole 1717–97, which is soon to appear from Penn State. Arguing that the revival of Gothic art and architecture was the product of a queer coterie surrounding Horace Walpole, this study interrogates the sexual and aesthetic origins of medievalism itself. This project has been supported by fellowships from the Paul Mellon Centre and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and earlier papers from it were published in The Art Bulletin, Architectural History, the Burlington Magazine, and elsewhere. He is currently working on books on the Gothic sculpture of Wells Cathedral, Welsh Gothic architecture, and a collaborative study of Medievalism during Toronto’s Gilded Age.