Browse Publications

Painting for Money:
The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century England

David H. Solkin

Type
Print
Publicaton Date
May 1993
Standard Number
9780300057416
Distributor
Yale University Press
Specifications
322 pages

A distinctly modern art world energed in 18th-century England. The period witnessed the establishment of the first public spaces for the display of art, widespread discussion of artistic issues and commercial patronage of painting and sculpture. In this book, David Solkin discusses these phenomena, showing how developments in painting were related to the rapid growth of commerce and analyzing how the sudden light of public exposure affected pictorial practice and theory. Solkin examines the attempts by artists in the early 18th century to represent the world of commercial modernity. He finds that by the 1730s, the foundations had been laid for the production of certain innovative forms of public art that were designed specifically for a middle class audience. Market forces quickly transformed the traditional subject matter of historical paintings into something less high-minded and more popular, and many painters abandoned idealized forms and classical subjects and offered instead detailed portrayals of modern British themes. At the same time, the image of the hero was transformed from a character of stern and stoic masculinity into a new paragon of sensitivity and benevolence, tailored to a non-heroic audience. The founding of the Royal Academy in 1768 marked an attempt to return to the standards of the past, but this did not check the growth of a new genre of British painting with its own inner dynamic, meaning and ambition.

About the author

  • David H. Solkin

    Emeritus Professor of the History of Art at The Courtauld Institute of Art

Tags