A Wider View: From Collaboration to Empire: Graphic Landscape
Conference, Lecture – Mark Hallett, Felicity Myrone, Sarah Moulden, Eleanore Neumann, Alisa Bunbury, Douglas Fordham
- 11 November 2021
- 2:00 – 4:00 pm
- This event is part of the online conference programme 'Graphic Landscape: The Landscape Print Series in Britain, c.1775–1850'
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)
14.55–15.00 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 Douglas Fordham (Professor of Art History, University of Virginia ), Travel Prints or Illustrated Books?
15.45–16.00 Panel discussion
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.
Douglas Fordham, Travel Prints or Illustrated Books?
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?
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 is Märit Rausing Director at the Courtauld Institute of Art. Between 2012 and 2023 he was Director of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. Prior to taking up that position, Mark worked in the History of Art department at the University of York. Appointed as lecturer in 1994, he became a professor in 2006 and was Head of Department between 2007 and 2012.
Mark’s scholarly research has focused on British art from the seventeenth century onwards. Books he has written and edited include The Spectacle of Difference: Graphic Satire in the Age of Hogarth (Yale University Press, 1999); Hogarth (Phaidon Press, 2000); Eighteenth Century York: Culture, Space and Society (edited with Jane Rendall, Borthwick Institute, 2003); Faces in a Library: Sir Joshua Reynolds's 'Streatham Worthies' (The Watson Gordon Lecture 2011, National Galleries of Scotland, 2012); Living with the Royal Academy: Artistic ideals and Experiences in England, 1769–1848 (edited with Sarah Monks and John Barrell Ashgate, 2013); Reynolds: Portraiture in Action (Yale University Press, 2014); and Court, Country, City: British Art and Architecture, 1660–1735 (edited with Nigel Llewellyn and Martin Myrone, Yale University Press, 2016). He also co-edited the major online publication, The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition: A Chronicle, 1769–2018 (Paul Mellon Centre, 2018).
Mark has also been involved in curating numerous exhibitions. He co-curated the 2007 Tate Britain exhibition Hogarth and co-authored the accompanying catalogue with Christine Riding; he co-curated the 2011 York Art Gallery exhibition William Etty: Art and Controversy and co-edited the accompanying catalogue with Sarah Burnage and Laura Turner; he co-curated the 2015 Wallace Collection exhibition Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint and co-edited the accompanying catalogue with Lucy Davis. With his PMC colleague Sarah Victoria Turner, he curated the 2018 Royal Academy exhibition, The Great Spectacle: 250 Years of the Summer Exhibition, and co-authored the accompanying catalogue. He curated George Shaw: A Corner of a Foreign Field, which opened at the Yale Center for British Art in October 2018, before travelling to the Holburne Museum, Bath, in February 2019. With Zuzana Flaskova and Rosie Ram, he co-curated the 2019-20 Tate Britain Spotlight Display Vital Fragments: Nigel Henderson and the Art of Collage, for which he also co-wrote a series of short films on Henderson’s collage-work Screen.
Mark has been the recipient of a Leverhulme Research Fellowship and a Paul Mellon Centre Senior Fellowship. He was a Visiting Scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge (2013–14) and a Visiting Professor at the Courtauld Institute of Art (2014–16). He gave the British Academy’s ‘Aspects of Art’ lecture for 2019, titled ‘The Newspaper Man: Michael Andrews and the Art of Painted Collage’.
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 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 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., 1940–1960. 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 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 (2002–2017) and at the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (1999–2002). 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 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’.
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