Past Events

Peaks and Pencils: Victorian Illustrations and Paintings of the Dolomite Mountains

Research Lunch – William Bainbridge

  • 19 February 2016
  • 12:30 – 2:00 pm
  • Lecture Room, Paul Mellon Centre

The fantastic peaks of the so-called ‘Venetian Alps’ have been often linked to the mountainous backgrounds found in masterpieces by Leonardo, Bellini and Titian. It was not until the Victorian period, however, that these strange and irregular mountain forms gained proper geographic and geological understanding, acquiring their current topographic label of Dolomite Mountains. No longer painted as backgrounds, these mountains become in the nineteenth century the subject of a visual and textual universe that places them graphically in the foreground. The illustrations that accompanied the many writings of British travellers, scientists, mountaineers and artists in the Dolomites reveal a unique blurring of geography, art and science, offering a picturesque world of the striking vividness of nature. Moving from Martin Conway’s lesson on ‘how to see mountains,’ illustrated by A.D. McCormick, the seminar shall unpack the visual procedure through which painters and mountaineers transformed Titian’s birthplace in the Dolomites into Titian Country, opening up a picturesque Petit Tour in the mountainous background of Venice to locate the actual peaks featured in the paintings of the great master and to promote him as map-maker. Painter Elijah Walton’s chromolithographs brought the Dolomites into the studio of students wanting to master alpine landscape as well as introducing them to the London art market through his pioneering exhibition on Bond Street in 1867. Perhaps none other than the paintings and book illustrations by E.T. and E.H. Compton, however, did more to add a fantastic visual evidence to the word-paintings of those many Dolomite enthusiasts

All are welcome! However, places are limited, so if you would like to attend please contact our Events Manager, Ella Fleming on [email protected]

This is a free event and lunch is provided.

About the speaker

  • William Bainbridge is an historical and cultural geographer, receiving a PhD in 2014 from the University of Durham for a thesis entitled ‘Heritage in the Clouds: Englishness in the Dolomites.’ It focused on the landscape representation and imaginative invention of the Dolomites in the nineteenth century and shall be published in monograph form in 2016. He has received a number of fellowships and grants. Currently he is undertaking a project – ‘Peaks and Pencils’ – at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art.