- 2 September 2009
- 9:30 – 7:00 pm
- Public Study Room, Paul Mellon Centre
The object of this conference is to rethink romanticism in the American visual arts within a trans-Atlantic framework. The tendency of both art-historical interpretations of American art and of American Studies approaches has been to interpret their object in terms of a set of distinctly national characteristics. This approach has its value, but the great cultural movements of the modern period – in this instance Neo-Classicism and Romanticism – were inherently international and can not be detached ultimately from trans-Atlantic economic relations and the great political conflicts and rivalries of the period. Trans-Atlantic Romanticism will provide a forum in which to consider developments in the American visual arts of the period c.1789-1848 in relation to cognate developments in Britain – not only the key European centre for Americans seeking art training in Europe until the 1840s, but also a nation particularly associated with the cultural trends that were becoming known as Romantic.
The twelve papers and keynote lecture address the issues of Romanticism from a number of perspectives:
- The urban context in which artists worked in Britain and the United States , and notably London and New York, as a basis for comparing the socio-economic and institutional frameworks of Romantic culture.
- The literary discourse of early nineteenth-century Romanticism in relation to new attitudes to the arts and their place in society more generally.
- The work of individual artists who acted as link figures between British and American cultures, including Benjamin West and Washington Allston.
- Related developments in landscape and genre painting in Britain and the United States, represented by the work of Thomas Cole, John Quidor, John Martin, and JMW Turner.