- 27 October 2020
Today sees the publication of two new Paul Mellon Centre books:
Aesthetic Painting in Britain and America: Collectors, Art Worlds, Networks by Melody Barnett Desuner
In the nineteenth century, the Aesthetic movement exalted taste, the pursuit of beauty, and self-expression over moral expectations and restrictive conformity. This illuminating publication examines the production and circulation of artworks made during this unique historical moment. Looking at how specific works of art in this style were created, collected and exchanged, the book pushes beyond the notion of Aesthetic painting and design as being merely decorative.
The paintings and drawings Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) produced from 1835 to his death are seen by many as his most audacious and compelling work, a highly personal final vision that ranks with the late styles of the greatest artists. In this study, Sam Smiles shows how a richer account of Turner’s achievement can be presented once his historical circumstances are given proper attention. He discusses the style and subject matter of Turner’s later oil paintings and watercolours, his commercial dealings and his relations with patrons; he examines the artist’s critical reception and scrutinises accounts of his physical and mental health to see what can be reliably said about this last phase of creative endeavour.