Past Events

Crossing the Channel: French Refugee Artists in London (1870-1904)

Call for Papers

  • 17 May to 19 June 2017
  • Deadline 9:00 am

An international conference at Tate Britain and the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art
25–26 January 2018

Convened by Tate, the Paul Mellon Centre for British Art, and the Institut français du Royaume-Uni

Opening at Tate Britain on 2 November 2017, Impressionists in London: French Artists in Exile (1870–1904) is a major exhibition on French artists who sought refuge in London during and after the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71). It is the first large-scale exhibition to map the connections between French and British artists, patrons and art dealers during a traumatic period in French history. Some artists, like James Tissot and the sculptor Edouard Lantéri, had a sustained career in Britain, while others, including Claude Monet and Camille Pissarro, returned to France after a few months, only to come back to England on later occasions to engage with British motifs in more propitious circumstances. The exhibition considers the central role played by Alphonse Legros, who settled in Britain in 1863, and the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, as the pillars of the diverse community formed by refugee artists. It highlights the contribution that these outsiders made to British art education and iconography, and reciprocally, the impact that their cross-channel experiences had on French art.

Organised in conjunction with the exhibition, the two-day conference Crossing the Channel: French Refugee Artists in London (1870–1904) aims to uncover and stimulate new research on Anglo-French networks between the Franco-Prussian war and the Entente Cordiale in 1904, as well as the influence of French teaching methods on British education. We invite submissions on any aspects that enrich our understanding of cross-channel dynamics during this period, but particularly encourage papers on the following themes:

  • The role of Francophile patrons such as Kaye Knowles, Constandine Ionides, George Howard, Henry James Turner and others in the welfare of French refugee artists
  • The patronage of Communard artists by British aristocratic patrons and royalty
  • Refugee artists and Modern British Art
  • French refugees and the British art market
  • French and cosmopolitan hubs in London
  • Alphonse Legros as the keystone of the French artistic community
  • Jules Dalou, Alphonse Legros and Edouard Lantéri’s impact on British education
  • The role of French artists and printers on the etching revival in Britain

The critical reception and impact of French refugee art at the Royal Academy and other exhibiting venues

How to submit

Papers should be 20 minutes in length. Prospective contributors are asked to submit, in a single document, an abstract of 300 words (maximum) and a 100-word biography by 09.00 (GMT) on Monday 19 June 2017. Please send this information attached to an email with the subject ‘Crossing the Channel’ to Ella Fleming: efleming@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk.

Speakers will be notified of the conference committee’s decision in July 2017.​ A contribution towards travel costs will be made available to speakers, and Tate can provide letters of support for selected speakers seeking further support towards their participation.

Image listing: Houses of Parliament, Sunlight Effect 1903, Claude Monet, Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Grace Underwood Barton (6​8.41.1)