Upcoming Events

Graphic Landscape: The Landscape Print Series in Britain, c.1775–1850

  • 2 to 11 November 2021
  • Full conference details with speaker biographies
  • Online Events

Graphic Landscape: The Landscape Print Series in Britain, 1775–1850 is a four-day programme of online webinars taking place between 2 and 11 November 2021, presented jointly by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the British Library.

Landscape and topographical print series proliferated in the late eighteenth century and in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Indeed, the format seems to have enjoyed an artistic and commercial boom in this period. Some examples of these series, such as Turner’s Liber Studiorum (1807–19) and Constable’s English Landscape Scenery (1830–33), are extremely well known. Many others, however, have still to receive sustained and critical attention. This programme of four online seminars is designed to look afresh at the late Georgian and early Victorian landscape print series and to stimulate new research on this important strand of graphic art. Participants will bring a wide range of perspectives to bear on the topic and address works in a variety of graphic media.

The first week of the programme takes the form of two webinars addressing, respectively, the themes of Print, Politics and Industrialisation and Prints and Property. These two sessions take place on 2 and 4 November via Zoom, from 12.00 to 14.00 BST.

In the second week, our two webinars are entitled Revisiting the Canon and A Wider View: From Collaboration to Empire. The first of these sessions will take place on 9 November via Zoom, from 12.00 to 14.00 BST. The second will take place on 11 November via Zoom, at the later time of 14.00–16.00 BST.

Graphic Landscape: The Landscape Print Series in Britain, 1775–1850 is co-convened by Mark Hallett at the Paul Mellon Centre and Felicity Myrone at the British Library.

DAY ONE

Tuesday, 2 November: Print, Politics and Industrialisation – Zoom Webinar, 12.00–14.00

12.00–12.10 Introduction by Mark Hallett (Director, Paul Mellon Centre) and Felicity Myrone (Lead Curator, Western Prints and Drawings, British Library)

12.10–12.30 Amy Concannon (Senior Curator, Historic British Art, Tate)
‘A Captur’d City Blazed’: Printmaking and the Bristol Riots of 1831

12.30–12.50 Lizzie Jacklin (Keeper of Art, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums )
Mining Landscapes: Thomas Hair’s Views of the Collieries

12.50–13.00 Comfort break

13.00–13.20 Morna O’Neill (Associate Professor of Art History, Art Department, Wake Forest University) John Constable, David Lucas and Steel in English Landscape

13.20–14.00 Panel discussion and questions

DAY TWO

Thursday, 4 November: Print and Property – Zoom Webinar, 12.00–14.00

12.00–12.10 Introduction by Richard Johns (Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of York)

12.10–12.30 John Bonehill (Lecturer, History of Art, University of Glasgow)
Picturing Property: The Estate Landscape and the Late Eighteenth-century Print Market

12.30–12.50 Kate Retford (Professor of Art History, Birkbeck, University of London)
Views of the Lakes at the Vyne

12.50–13.00 Comfort break

13.00–13.20 James Finch (Assistant Curator, 19th Century British Art, Tate Britain)
Amelia Long’s Views from Bromley Hill

13.20–14.00 Panel discussion and questions

DAY THREE

Tuesday, 9 November: Revisiting the Canon – Zoom Webinar, 12.00–14.00

12.00–12.10 Introduction by Cora Gilroy-Ware (Associate Professor, History of Art, University of Oxford)

12.10–12.30 Greg Smith (Independent Art Historian)
Engaging with the Voyage Pittoresque de la France: Thomas Girtin’s Picturesque Views in Paris and their appeal to the ‘most eminent in the Profession’

12.30–12.50 Timothy Wilcox (Independent Scholar)
John Sell Cotman’s Architectural Antiquities of Normandy; A Catastrophic Miscalculation?

12.50–13.00 Comfort break

13.00–13.20 Gillian Forrester (Independent Art Historian, Curator and Writer)
A glossary for the Anthropocene? Turner’s Liber Studiorum in the era of climate change

13.20–14.00 Panel discussion and questions

DAY FOUR

Thursday, 11 November: A Wider View: From Collaboration to Empire – Zoom Webinar, 14.00–16.00

14.00–14.10 Introduction by Mark Hallett (Director, Paul Mellon Centre) and Felicity Myrone (Lead Curator, Western Prints and Drawings, British Library)

14.10–14.25 Sarah Moulden (Curator of 19th-Century Collections, National Portrait Gallery), Creative Collaboration: Cotman’s Norfolk etchings

14.25–14.40 Eleanore Neumann (PhD Candidate, University of Virginia)
Translating Topography: Women and the Publication of Landscape Illustrations of the Bible (1836)

14.40–14.55 Questions

14.55–15.00 Comfort break

15.00–15.15 Alisa Bunbury (Grimwade Collection Curator, Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne)
Taken From Nature: Printed Views of Colonial Australia

15.15–15.30 Doug Fordham (Professor of Art History, University of Virginia )
Travel Prints or Illustrated Books?

15.30–15.45 Questions

15.45–16.00 Panel discussion


Paper Abstracts and Speaker Biographies

DAY ONE

John Bonehill, Picturing Property: The Estate Landscape and the Late Eighteenth-century Print Market

Pictorial surveys in print of the nation’s great houses and landed estates were a vital part of ‘the business of landscapery’ (to borrow Conal Shields’ memorable phrase). High-profile debates over the coincidence or otherwise of landed and public interests ensured the estate a canonical cultural status and such schemes a ready market. Part of the polite geographies of the time, also set out in maps, travel literature and poetry, serial print publications such as William Watts’ The Seats of the Nobility and Gentry (1779–86) extolled the virtues of personal property and private landownership as the foundation of a modern society. They helped to co-ordinate Britain’s localities and regions in people’s minds as a complex but ordered and harmonious mosaic of landed power.

Such ventures exploited serial formats to telling effect, opening up fresh perspectives and expanding the topographical and geographical reach of landscape art. Indeed, printed views of the estate ranged over a rich array of sites, regions and terrains across Britain and its colonial territories, including the slave landscapes of the Caribbean. Despite a tendency for scholars to think about estate portraiture largely in terms of views of ‘the country house’, serial publications in the line were rarely so confined.

Taking in extended, nationwide surveys of country and suburban seats as well as sets focused on individual properties, this paper will trace developments in the market for serial prints of the landed estate in the latter part of the eighteenth century. Such publications proliferated in these years, to the point of near market saturation, reflecting a broad interest in the estate and its depiction, not least among polite, urban dwellers who lacked the resources to build such domains and whose attitudes were as likely to be censorious as curious. As this paper will show, the making and meaning of these series, involving collaborations between publishers, printmakers, artists and, importantly, their patrons, was increasingly inflected by wider anxieties over the improvement of landed property and the erosion of customary modes of existence.

Kate Retford, Views of the Lakes at the Vyne

As well as being sold ready to be bound, or sometimes framed, print series were also used to create print rooms. Fashionable from c.1750 to c.1820, anything from modest numbers to more than 300 prints could be pasted onto the walls of one of these rooms, embellished with printed borders. Series were particularly useful in providing a number of thematically united prints of the same dimensions, helping to structure the display, facilitate symmetry and encourage viewer engagement.

My paper will focus on the plates from Joseph Farington’s Views of the Lakes (1784–9) included in the surviving print room at The Vyne in Hampshire. Whilst this room was renovated by the National Trust in 1959, more of the fabric is original than had previously been thought. It was primarily created by Caroline Wiggett, an adoptive daughter of the family, in 1817, with the assistance of her aunt and brothers. She used a large quantity of older material already at The Vyne but also a significant selection of recently published prints.

In my talk, I will reflect on the processes of recontextualisation and, indeed, transformation at stake here. Farington’s plates are featured in a display which also includes prints after Italian old masters and Hogarth’s Four Times of Day, all linked by added decorative borders. Their letterpress has been cut away and the views are here also divorced from William Cookson’s accompanying descriptions. The scenes would therefore only be recognisable locales for those with necessary knowledge; generic, picturesque views of lakes and mountains for others. Furthermore, Farington’s carefully planned running order was set to one side in deference to the display context, as well as personal taste. It also appears that the family only purchased the first six plates, issued in 1786, and so the full series, represented in surviving bound volumes, is truncated.

Farington’s Views at The Vyne offer a rich opportunity to think about the reception, use and display of such print series, the relative contexts of bound volumes and use as pictures in a ‘paper museum’, and the complex relationship between text and image.

James Finch, Amelia Long’s Views from Bromley Hill

Amelia Long, Lady Farnborough (1772–1837), the daughter of a collector, who went on to marry a connoisseur, was one of the foremost amateur watercolourists of her generation. Reputedly the ‘favourite pupil’ of Thomas Girtin, her work was held in sufficient regard for her to have been an honorary exhibitor at the Royal Academy between 1807 and 1822 and is held by several public collections. In spite of her talent, recognition during her lifetime and place within the London art world, however, Long’s work has received little attention since the exhibition of her work at Dundee Museums and Art Galleries in 1980.

Despite her achievements as a watercolourist, Long is arguably of greater interest as a printmaker. Rather than work with reproductive printmakers, Long etched her own plates and produced two very different series of landscape etchings. Etchings by Lady Long From Her Sketches Taken in France and Holland in 1815–1817–1819 documents Long’s travels amongst the first wave of British artists (also including Turner and Cotman) visiting the continent at the end of the Napoleonic Wars and displays a keen interest in both topography and the armies still conspicuously present on her travels. Long’s nine Views from Bromley Hill (c.1805), meanwhile, depict the house and gardens, which Long and her husband acquired in 1801, and transformed to their own designs.

This paper will focus on Long’s views from Bromley Hill, viewing these prints in the context of the topography of this area of Kent (now London), coterie artistic production and the representation of a property which became both a meeting place for society gatherings and an arena for Long’s own creativity.

About the speakers

Richard Johns

Richard Johns is Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of York where his research and teaching encompasses various aspects of British art. Landscape-related publications include Framing Robert Aggas: The Painter-Stainers’ Company and the English School of Painters (2008), Turner and the Sea with Christine Riding (2013) and From the Nore: Turner at the Mouth of the Thames (2016). In 2019 he co-curated the exhibition Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud with Suzanne Fagence Cooper.

John Bonehill

John Bonehill teaches art history at the University of Glasgow. His research addresses various aspects of eighteenth-century art and culture, with publications including William Hodges: The Art of Exploration (with Geoff Quilley, 2004), Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain (with Stephen Daniels, 2009) and most recently Old Ways New Roads: Travels in Scotland 1720–1832 (with Anne Dulau and Nigel Leask, 2021). He is currently working on artist’s domestic sketching tours and completing a book-length study tentatively titled The Face of the Country: Estate Portraiture in Britain, 1660–1832.

Kate Retford

Kate Retford is Professor of Art History at Birkbeck, University of London. She has published widely on eighteenth-century British art, particularly on portraiture and the country house art collection. Her work includes The Art of Domestic Life: Family Portraiture in Eighteenth-century England (Yale University Press, 2006); Placing Faces: The Portrait and the English Country House in the Long Eighteenth Century, co-edited with Gill Perry et al. (Manchester University Press, 2013); and The Georgian London Town House: Building, Collecting and Display, co-edited with Susanna Avery-Quash (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019). Her recent book on the eighteenth-century British conversation piece, The Conversation Piece: Making Modern Art in Eighteenth-century Britain, was published by Yale for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in 2017, winning an Historians of British Art award.

She is currently developing a project looking at the presentation of the country house as family home and will be writing a book about print rooms in eighteenth-century country houses, during a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2021–22.

James Finch

James Finch is Assistant Curator, 19th Century British Art at Tate Britain, where he has worked on the exhibitions Van Gogh and Britain, William Blake and Turner’s Modern World. He was previously Curatorial Assistant at the Royal Academy of Arts and wrote his PhD thesis on ‘The Art Criticism of David Sylvester’ (AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership between Tate and the University of Kent). He has also published essays on artists including Lucian Freud, Barnett Newman and Alberto Giacometti.

DAY TWO

John Bonehill, Picturing Property: The Estate Landscape and the Late Eighteenth-century Print Market

Pictorial surveys in print of the nation’s great houses and landed estates were a vital part of ‘the business of landscapery’ (to borrow Conal Shields’ memorable phrase). High-profile debates over the coincidence or otherwise of landed and public interests ensured the estate a canonical cultural status and such schemes a ready market. Part of the polite geographies of the time, also set out in maps, travel literature and poetry, serial print publications such as William Watts’ The Seats of the Nobility and Gentry (1779–86) extolled the virtues of personal property and private landownership as the foundation of a modern society. They helped to co-ordinate Britain’s localities and regions in people’s minds as a complex but ordered and harmonious mosaic of landed power.

Such ventures exploited serial formats to telling effect, opening up fresh perspectives and expanding the topographical and geographical reach of landscape art. Indeed, printed views of the estate ranged over a rich array of sites, regions and terrains across Britain and its colonial territories, including the slave landscapes of the Caribbean. Despite a tendency for scholars to think about estate portraiture largely in terms of views of ‘the country house’, serial publications in the line were rarely so confined.

Taking in extended, nationwide surveys of country and suburban seats as well as sets focused on individual properties, this paper will trace developments in the market for serial prints of the landed estate in the latter part of the eighteenth century. Such publications proliferated in these years, to the point of near market saturation, reflecting a broad interest in the estate and its depiction, not least among polite, urban dwellers who lacked the resources to build such domains and whose attitudes were as likely to be censorious as curious. As this paper will show, the making and meaning of these series, involving collaborations between publishers, printmakers, artists and, importantly, their patrons, was increasingly inflected by wider anxieties over the improvement of landed property and the erosion of customary modes of existence.

Kate Retford, Views of the Lakes at the Vyne

As well as being sold ready to be bound, or sometimes framed, print series were also used to create print rooms. Fashionable from c.1750 to c.1820, anything from modest numbers to more than 300 prints could be pasted onto the walls of one of these rooms, embellished with printed borders. Series were particularly useful in providing a number of thematically united prints of the same dimensions, helping to structure the display, facilitate symmetry and encourage viewer engagement.

My paper will focus on the plates from Joseph Farington’s Views of the Lakes (1784–9) included in the surviving print room at The Vyne in Hampshire. Whilst this room was renovated by the National Trust in 1959, more of the fabric is original than had previously been thought. It was primarily created by Caroline Wiggett, an adoptive daughter of the family, in 1817, with the assistance of her aunt and brothers. She used a large quantity of older material already at The Vyne but also a significant selection of recently published prints.

In my talk, I will reflect on the processes of recontextualisation and, indeed, transformation at stake here. Farington’s plates are featured in a display which also includes prints after Italian old masters and Hogarth’s Four Times of Day, all linked by added decorative borders. Their letterpress has been cut away and the views are here also divorced from William Cookson’s accompanying descriptions. The scenes would therefore only be recognisable locales for those with necessary knowledge; generic, picturesque views of lakes and mountains for others. Furthermore, Farington’s carefully planned running order was set to one side in deference to the display context, as well as personal taste. It also appears that the family only purchased the first six plates, issued in 1786, and so the full series, represented in surviving bound volumes, is truncated.

Farington’s Views at The Vyne offer a rich opportunity to think about the reception, use and display of such print series, the relative contexts of bound volumes and use as pictures in a ‘paper museum’, and the complex relationship between text and image.

James Finch, Amelia Long’s Views from Bromley Hill

Amelia Long, Lady Farnborough (1772–1837), the daughter of a collector, who went on to marry a connoisseur, was one of the foremost amateur watercolourists of her generation. Reputedly the ‘favourite pupil’ of Thomas Girtin, her work was held in sufficient regard for her to have been an honorary exhibitor at the Royal Academy between 1807 and 1822 and is held by several public collections. In spite of her talent, recognition during her lifetime and place within the London art world, however, Long’s work has received little attention since the exhibition of her work at Dundee Museums and Art Galleries in 1980.

Despite her achievements as a watercolourist, Long is arguably of greater interest as a printmaker. Rather than work with reproductive printmakers, Long etched her own plates and produced two very different series of landscape etchings. Etchings by Lady Long From Her Sketches Taken in France and Holland in 1815–1817–1819 documents Long’s travels amongst the first wave of British artists (also including Turner and Cotman) visiting the continent at the end of the Napoleonic Wars and displays a keen interest in both topography and the armies still conspicuously present on her travels. Long’s nine Views from Bromley Hill (c.1805), meanwhile, depict the house and gardens, which Long and her husband acquired in 1801, and transformed to their own designs.

This paper will focus on Long’s views from Bromley Hill, viewing these prints in the context of the topography of this area of Kent (now London), coterie artistic production and the representation of a property which became both a meeting place for society gatherings and an arena for Long’s own creativity.

About the speakers

Richard Johns

Richard Johns is Senior Lecturer in History of Art at the University of York where his research and teaching encompasses various aspects of British art. Landscape-related publications include Framing Robert Aggas: The Painter-Stainers’ Company and the English School of Painters (2008), Turner and the Sea with Christine Riding (2013) and From the Nore: Turner at the Mouth of the Thames (2016). In 2019 he co-curated the exhibition Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud with Suzanne Fagence Cooper.

John Bonehill

John Bonehill teaches art history at the University of Glasgow. His research addresses various aspects of eighteenth-century art and culture, with publications including William Hodges: The Art of Exploration (with Geoff Quilley, 2004), Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain (with Stephen Daniels, 2009) and most recently Old Ways New Roads: Travels in Scotland 1720–1832 (with Anne Dulau and Nigel Leask, 2021). He is currently working on artist’s domestic sketching tours and completing a book-length study tentatively titled The Face of the Country: Estate Portraiture in Britain, 1660–1832.

Kate Retford

Kate Retford is Professor of Art History at Birkbeck, University of London. She has published widely on eighteenth-century British art, particularly on portraiture and the country house art collection. Her work includes The Art of Domestic Life: Family Portraiture in Eighteenth-century England (Yale University Press, 2006); Placing Faces: The Portrait and the English Country House in the Long Eighteenth Century, co-edited with Gill Perry et al. (Manchester University Press, 2013); and The Georgian London Town House: Building, Collecting and Display, co-edited with Susanna Avery-Quash (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019). Her recent book on the eighteenth-century British conversation piece, The Conversation Piece: Making Modern Art in Eighteenth-century Britain, was published by Yale for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in 2017, winning an Historians of British Art award.

She is currently developing a project looking at the presentation of the country house as family home and will be writing a book about print rooms in eighteenth-century country houses, during a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2021–22.

James Finch

James Finch is Assistant Curator, 19th Century British Art at Tate Britain, where he has worked on the exhibitions Van Gogh and Britain, William Blake and Turner’s Modern World. He was previously Curatorial Assistant at the Royal Academy of Arts and wrote his PhD thesis on ‘The Art Criticism of David Sylvester’ (AHRC-funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership between Tate and the University of Kent). He has also published essays on artists including Lucian Freud, Barnett Newman and Alberto Giacometti.

DAY THREE

Greg Smith, Engaging with the Voyage Pittoresque de la France: Thomas Girtin’s Picturesque Views in Paris and their appeal to the ‘most eminent in the Profession’.

This paper will consider the impact of the engraved views produced for the Voyage Pittoresque de la France (1781–1800) on the work of the British watercolourist, Thomas Girtin (1775–1802). Girtin’s studio at his death contained a number of ‘French prints … Landscapes’ and I will begin by examining the group of six watercolours that were directly based on engravings from the Voyage Pittoresque. The same publication also had a profound influence on the major outcome of Girtin’s stay in Paris in the winter of 1801–02, the twenty soft-ground etchings that were published posthumously, with the addition of aquatint, as Picturesque Views in Paris (1803). The radical playwright, Thomas Holcroft (1745–1809), noted that he conducted Girtin to locations in and around Paris ‘that were esteemed the most picturesque … among artists’ and the artist’s knowledge of the French topographical tradition was clearly mediated by Holcroft; and this certainly helps to explain the similarity of Girtin’s panoramic drawings of the river Seine and the work of artists such as Jean-Baptiste Génillion. It is perhaps not surprising that the significance for Girtin of the work of his French contemporaries has been overlooked given the obscurity of the Voyage Pittoresque in Britain but the expansion in the topographical archive on both sides of the Channel make it increasingly untenable to consider Girtin’s work in isolation.

In the second part of the paper, I will look at the way Girtin’s engagement with French prints was part of a wider strategy of targeting his publication at one sector of the market: practitioners of landscape art. The recently discovered list of purchasers of his Views in Paris indicates that Girtin was successful in attracting the support of not only the male and female amateurs amongst his regular patrons but also what the publication’s prospectus termed the ‘most eminent in the Profession’. Amongst the artist subscribers was Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851) whose series of Seine views was clearly influenced by Girtin’s prints such as St Germain en Laye, from the Terrace and who built upon his engagement with the French topographical tradition.

Timothy Wilcox, John Sell Cotman’s Architectural Antiquities of Normandy; A Catastrophic Miscalculation?

Cotman’s Architectural Antiquities of Normandy, nearly 100 large-scale etchings, published by the artist between 1820 and 1822, was his most ambitious project as a printmaker. It occupied him for more than five years yet, when he had finished it, he was bankrupt, almost suicidally depressed and determined to give up printmaking and publishing for good.

This paper will present Cotman’s Normandy as a grand project broken on the back of a profound shift in attitude in post-Napoleonic Britain. Having conceived his Normandy in a spirit of disinterested enquiry worthy of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, Cotman was, in effect, caught out by the patriotic fervour that gripped Britain after 1815. Cotman’s relative isolation in Norwich, a regional centre later dubbed ‘Jacobin City’ for its Revolutionary sympathies, and his involvement in the intellectual circles of Dawson Turner and Hudson Gurney, who kept up an extensive correspondence with scholars in France, must have played a part in him embarking on a project which, in a nutshell, gave Norman-French culture priority over the English.

Apart from the social and political context, there were technical and artistic reasons for Cotman’s difficulties. His large etchings looked dated, appearing at just the moment that Samuel Prout was demonstrating the powers of lithography to capture the crumbling masonry of continental domestic and ecclesiastical architecture. Having concentrated so single-mindedly on completing the visual component of his magnum opus, Cotman paid relatively scant attention to the supporting text, to gathering subscribers and to distribution. The elements which should have contributed to the project’s success were lacking and Cotman’s lack of judgement of his place in a market suddenly crowded with similar productions proved fatal.

By his third French tour in 1820, Cotman was himself in doubt about his scheme and envisaged a series of landscape prints which, if completed, did have the potential to be his crowning achievement in the medium. In the event, after the failure of the Normandy, this project was abandoned. The finished drawings that remain are, however, a testament to another series of landscape prints which deserve consideration, if only because the circumstances of their non-appearance are so fascinating.

Gillian Forrester, A Glossary for the Anthropocene? Turner’s Liber Studiorum in the Era of Climate Change

In 1807, J.M.W. Turner launched the Liber Studiorum, a self-published series of etching and mezzotint prints made by professional engravers from his designs. Turner issued the prints in parts of five at irregular intervals, intending to produce a hundred in total, but abandoned publication after he published the fourteenth part in 1819. Turner did not produce a prospectus or letterpress and his few remarks concerning the project were enigmatic. He did, however, exhibit a brief handwritten text at his gallery stating his objective to produce ‘a classification of the various styles of landscape, viz., the historic, mountainous, pastoral, marine and architectural’. An initial letter denoting one of these categories was engraved above each image. Despite the apparent simplicity of this mission statement, the Liber is not a straightforwardly didactic ‘Book of Studies’ but rather a complex and unstable amalgam of different discursive models, including a treatise on European landscape art, topographical print series, drawing manual, travelogue, nationalist polemic and personal manifesto. The engraver John Pye later noted that Turner’s objective was ‘to demonstrate’ that he could ‘delineate everything that is visible under the sun’.

Why should we devote attention to the Liber Studiorum? Although the work has received sustained scholarly attention since the 1850s and has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, I propose in this paper that Turner’s open-ended publication still offers possibilities for new readings as methodological approaches evolve. Turner’s taxonomy may also constitute a valuable model for art historians and practitioners as they develop new vocabularies to respond to the transformation of the world’s landscapes by climate change and pollution. A new lexicon of aesthetic terms is already in formation: in 2015, cultural historian Robert Macfarlane proposed the compilation of a ‘Desecration Phrasebook’ that might contain terms such as ‘trash vortices’ and physical geographer Stephen Tooth responded with his online Glossary for the Anthropocene, listing categories that included Anthroposcenic, Anthroposore, Glasstic Load, Capitolscene and Plasticene. I will discuss in relation to this evolving taxonomy the practices of Christiane Baumgartner and Emma Stibbon, two contemporary artists who make prints that explore the aesthetics of landscapes transformed by global warming and environmental degradation.

About the speakers

Cora Gilroy-Ware

Cora Gilroy-Ware’s research explores continuities between historic and contemporary, ancient and modern. Her doctoral project on the surprisingly under-researched classical nude in late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century British art led to her first book, The Classical Body in Romantic Britain, and a broader interest in neglected chapters in the history of visual classicism. As a scholar of BIPOC heritage, she seeks to reconcile decolonial approaches with traditional art historical areas of concern. With support from the Henry Moore Foundation, she is currently at work on a second book project on adaptations of Greco-Roman art, particularly marble sculpture, among artists of African and indigenous American descent including Mary Edmonia Lewis, Augusta Savage, Selma Burke, Carrie Mae Weems and Kara Walker. She has curated exhibitions at Tate Britain and the Huntington, and written for the London Review of Books, Apollo, The White Review and other journals.

Greg Smith

Greg Smith is an independent art historian who has published extensively on the history of British watercolours, landscape art and artists working in Italy. He has also worked as a curator at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, the Design Museum, London and the Barber Institute of Fine Art, Birmingham and has organised numerous exhibitions, most notably on the work of Walter Crane (Whitworth Art Gallery), Thomas Girtin (Tate Britain), Thomas Jones (National Gallery of Wales) and Thomas Fearnley (Barber Institute of Fine Art). Greg is currently Senior Research Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and in the final stages of preparing Thomas Girtin (1775–1802): An Online Catalogue, Archive, and Introduction to the Artist for its launch in 2022.

Timothy Wilcox

Timothy Wilcox is an independent scholar with a particular interest in landscape painting and in watercolour. He held curatorial positions at the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and was for more than 10 years Director of Hove Museum and Art Gallery. As an independent curator, he curated exhibitions for Tate, the Lowry and Dulwich Picture Gallery. A former Associate Lecturer at the universities of Brighton and Surrey, he has been a Course Leader for the Courtauld Institute Summer School and a Special Advisor for the British Council to museums and galleries in India.

He is the author of books and articles on Constable, Francis Towne and Samuel Palmer and numerous publications on John Sell Cotman, including Cotman in Normandy, to accompany an exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery in 2012. Recently relocated to Oxfordshire, he is a regular contributor to the on-line programmes of the Ashmolean Museum.

Gillian Forrester

Gillian Forrester is an independent art historian, curator and writer. She was formerly Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Yale Center for British Art and specialises in British print culture in a transnational context. She co-edited Art and Emancipation in Jamaica: Isaac Mendes Belisario and His Worlds (Yale University Press, 2007) which won the College Art Association's 2009 Alfred H. Barr Jr. Award for an especially distinguished catalogue in the history of art.

Forrester has a particular interest in the prints of J.M.W. Turner and John Constable. She was the curator of exhibitions on Turner’s Liber Studiorum at the Nottingham University Art Gallery (1986) and Tate Britain (1996), for which she wrote the catalogue now regarded as the definitive text on the topic. She curated exhibitions on The Romantic Landscape Print and The Romantic Print in the Age of Revolutions at the Yale Center for British Art (2002, 2003) and The Romantic Print in Britain at the Carnegie Museum, Pittsburgh (2004). She is currently working on a book project on the Romantic landscape print. More imminent publications include an essay for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition catalogue, Modern Times: British Prints, 1913–1939 (Yale University Press, 2021) and an essay on Christiane Baumgartner’s recent work (Cristea Roberts Gallery, 2021).

DAY FOUR

Sarah Moulden, Creative Collaboration: Cotman’s Norfolk etchings

Between 1811 and 1822, John Sell Cotman (1782–1842) dramatically scaled down the watercolour practice for which he is now renowned in order to focus on etching. Self-taught, he published an astonishing 365 plates across six volumes during those years.

Cotman's concentration on printed volumes, mostly depicting architectural antiquities in the East Anglian and Normandy landscapes, coincided with a decade-long residency in Great Yarmouth. There he received the formal patronage of local banker and well-known antiquary, Dawson Turner, to whose family he taught drawing. Turner financed at least two of Cotman's most ambitious volumes, the first being Architectural Antiquities of Norfolk (1818), produced on a speculative basis and for which the banker anonymously provided the letterpress.

While the traditional view that Cotman was little more than Turner's draughtsman during this time has now been largely refuted, there is still a tendency to view his etchings unfavourably in relation to his earliest watercolours, with a visual character so strictly prescribed by Turner that there remained little room for the artist's own agency.

In this in-focus presentation, I want to propose that the Norfolk publication was in fact meant as a high-quality artistic product resulting from a creative collaboration between Cotman and Turner, who shared a playful approach to the antiquity-rich landscape of their home region. Their collaboration, and the visual effects it produced, raises questions about the status of artistic authenticity, identity and experience during the period, which I will consider through a close reading of a couple of the Norfolk’s plates and their letterpress.

Eleanore Neumann, Translating Topography: Women and the Publication of Landscape Illustrations of the Bible (1836)

In September 1833, Maria Graham (1785–1842) wrote to fellow British artist and travel writer Selina Bracebridge (1800–1874) asking her to send sketches of thirty different sites from Palestine and Lebanon. As part of her anonymous and unrecognised editorial work for the two-volume Landscape Illustrations of the Bible (1836), Graham gathered topographical landscapes drawn by artists travelling throughout the Middle East. Leading painters of the day, such as Graham’s second husband Sir Augustus Wall Callcott, J.M.W. Turner and Clarkson Stanfield, elaborated the sketches which were then translated into print by William and Edward Finden. The impetus for the huge undertaking came from the pre-eminent publisher John Murray who was responding to a growing taste for Biblical scenes. Murray had previously published Graham’s own travelogues and hired her as a ghost writer for Lord George Byron’s official account of the voyage taken by H.M.S. Blonde to Hawaii (1826), thus making her a good fit for the project. Graham was also familiar with earlier print series such as Turner’s Liber Studiorum (1807–1819) on which she loosely modelled the landscape illustrations that were published in her own Latin American travel accounts.

In this paper, I question what Graham’s example can tell us about how women not only consumed but also aided in the production of landscape print series in the late Georgian period. She and Bracebridge were the only women who contributed original sketches to the two-volume Landscape Illustrations of the Bible: one by Graham and six by Bracebridge. The process of translation is documented in each volume, thereby allowing readers to fully grasp the relationship from the site of production to the site of consumption and from the topographical landscape to the historical landscape. Countering predominant notions of female amateur artists in the early nineteenth century, I argue that women such as Graham and Bracebridge contributed – through less visible means – to public discourses on landscape, history and science amidst rapidly changing attitudes toward religion. As Graham’s own landscape practice diminished upon returning to the competitive London art world from her travels on the margins of the British Empire, she successfully sought out new modes of cultural production.

Alisa Bunbury, Taken From Nature: Printed Views of Colonial Australia

Occupation of the Australian continent began in 1788 and, during the first years of settlement, images were predominantly visual records of the developing town of Sydney, the ‘non-descript’ flora and fauna, and the Indigenous owners of Country. The first printed series of topographical views showing the surrounding environs and nascent townships didn’t appear until 1798, illustrating a first-hand account of Sydney’s formative decade. As with most of the early images, these were painted by a convict artist before being translated into print in London.

This, however, changed with two following series created in New South Wales in the 1810s. The first landscape prints made in the colony were published by an emancipated convict, Absalom West, who employed convicts and free artists to produce a set of etchings (1812–14) – crude by European standards but nevertheless important. A subsequent series, made under harsh conditions in Newcastle’s penal settlement (1816–18), was created less as a commercial enterprise but rather to highlight the professional achievements of the commandant of the settlement and the governor of the colony. The principal artist for these designs was Joseph Lycett who, upon receiving his freedom, returned to London where he produced his series of scenic aquatints, Views in Australia (1824–25), clearly intended to promote emigration and investment.

This paper will briefly discuss aspects of these early print series, each published under different circumstances and with differing intended outcomes. Significant in colonial Australia’s visual history, such prints were typical of the views of provincial townships, foreign places and, later, sublime scenery being published across the British Empire and in North America. While recognised by art historians, this aesthetic context remains underacknowledged in Australia and these series are little known elsewhere. Inevitably such images require reinterpretation today regarding imperial domination, environmental impact and representation of First Nations people, as well as analysis by First Nations’ historians.

In the decades around 1800, on the cusp of England’s ‘Illustration Revolution,’ prints documenting travel and exploration were often sold (and taxed) as illustrated books. This paper considers the importance of narrative, text and numbered plates to the ways in which these prints (many of which were landscapes) were marketed, viewed and interpreted. What are the implications of viewing these printed serial objects as books rather than as portfolios or series?

Douglas Fordham, Travel Prints or Illustrated Books?

The single-sheet intaglio prints that I will examine by William Alexander and Thomas, William and Samuel Daniell are often considered as unique works of art by collectors or as discrete units of historical and architectural evidence by scholars. Digital imagining has further separated these prints from the bindings and textual descriptions for which they were originally intended. This essay considers how pioneering ‘artist-publishers’ broadened the market for landscape art, while promoting new narratives about state, nation and empire. I will suggest that many of these works deployed landscape as a stable interpretative frame for the representation of lands and peoples that eluded clear textual analysis. Even so, descriptive text was considered indispensable to the prints in question and the book format was a necessary condition for establishing the work’s truth and authority. By insisting on the ‘bookness’ of print series such as Oriental Scenery, The Costume of China and African Scenery and Animals, we can learn a great deal about transformations in the British publishing industry and glimpse intimations of the Illustration Revolution to come.

About the speakers

Mark Hallett

Mark Hallett is Director of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. He is currently carrying out research for a forthcoming exhibition devoted to Constable and Turner, and leads the Centre’s Generation Landscape research project, of which this programme of webinars is a part.

Felicity Myrone

Felicity Myrone is Lead Curator of Western Prints and Drawings at the British Library. She joined the Library as Curator of Topography and led a project cataloguing and digitising George III’s maps and views, the King’s Topographical Collection and a related research project, Transforming Topography. One outcome of the latter is the British Library webspace, Picturing Places. She was awarded a 2019–20 Paul Mellon Centre Mid-career Fellowship for Art in the Library, investigating how the fused and intertwined institutional histories of the British Museum, Natural History Museum and British Library have shaped attitudes to prints and drawings. Her current project is writing a book with the support of a 2021 Getty Foundation Paper Project grant. This will be the first handbook/guide to the British Library’s prints and drawings in Printed Books, Manuscripts, Music and Maps.

Sarah Moulden

Sarah Moulden is Curator of 19th-Century Collections at the National Portrait Gallery. She completed her PhD at UEA in 2016 on the art and career of John Sell Cotman, focusing on how he attempted to construct a career in a fiercely competitive and congested art world. More broadly, it explored how we might now rethink the relationship between art and lived experience, and scrutinised the monographic form. The project involved working with Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery where she curated the exhibition Almost too daring for an individual: John Sell Cotman's One-man Show (2015–16). Formerly, Sarah was a curator at English Heritage, Dulwich Picture Gallery and again at the NPG.

Eleanore Neumann

Eleanore Neumann is a doctoral candidate in art and architectural history at the University of Virginia. Her research focuses on the imbrication of landscape, gender and empire in British art and visual culture of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In her dissertation, she examines the visual and verbal landscapes produced by the British artist and author Maria Graham (1785–1842) as she travelled globally in the early nineteenth century. Neumann trained as a curatorial fellow in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where she curated the exhibition Breaking Ground: Printmaking in the U.S., 19401960. She is the recipient of a Junior Fellowship from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, a Huntington Library Travel Grant and an RBS-UVA Fellowship at the Rare Book School, among others. Presently, she is collaborating with the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection and Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Center on a digital StoryMap for the international exhibition Madayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Australian Bark Painting from Yirrkala.

Alisa Bunbury

Alisa Bunbury is the Grimwade Collection Curator at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne. Previously she was Curator of Prints and Drawings at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (20022017) and at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (19992002). She has curated numerous exhibitions, including as lead curator of Colony: Australia 1770–1861 (National Gallery of Victoria, 2018) and has written widely, most recently as editor of, and principal contributor to, the major publication Pride of Place: Exploring the Grimwade Collection (The Miegunyah Press, 2020). Earlier this year she completed a National Library of Australia Curatorial Fellowship researching the early art of Norfolk Island which was settled six weeks after Sydney to become Britain’s second penal settlement in the Pacific.

Douglas Fordham

Douglas Fordham is a Professor at the University of Virginia. He is interested in the relationship between art, media and the British Empire, including his most recent publication, Aquatint Worlds: Travel, Print and Empire, 1770–1820 (PMC, 2019). As a PMC Senior Fellow, he is working on a project titled, ‘Aboriginal Printmaking and the Bureaucratic State’.