RIN Summer event: ‘Staging Shakespeare’, Professor Frederick Burwick, Westminster Archives Centre, July 19th 2016

RIN’s summer event took place on one of the hottest evenings of the year, but a great crowd turned out to hear Frederick Burwick’s public lecture ‘Staging Shakespeare: picturing Shakespeare’s plays in the 18th and 21st centuries’.

A renowned expert on the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery, Burwick’s starting point was the question: what relevance are the Boydell prints to the staging of Shakespeare?

His answer, in contrast to Richard Altick’s (in Painting From Books, 1985) is: quite a lot.

Burwick picked out 27 images which showed that many (not all) of the Boydell prints in fact have a close affinity with what a London audience might have witnessed on stage at the end of the 1700s.

He showed that, because many of the original paintings were done by artists who were also scene painters, the prints are a useful guide to what the 18th century stage would have looked like. Northcott and others asked actors such as Kemble to pose in their studios in role, and the paintings conform to the language of gesture in use on the stage at that time.

Indeed, Burwick’s lecture made it clear that the Boydell images remained an influence on subsequent Shakespeare productions, as Burwick drew comparisons with 20th and 21st century stagings.

At the wine reception (sponsored by the British Association for Romantic Studies) after the lecture, attendees were able to look at the digitized Shakespeare Gallery prints donated to RIN by Burwick, and also at items from the Westminster Archives extensive Theatre collection.

 

 

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Image of the Month: ‘Edward the Black Prince; or, the Battle of Poictiers’ (Mariana and Arnold) 1791

Illustration to William Shirley's 'Edward the Black Prince', scene 3, from Bell's 'British Theatre' series; at the door of a tent, a girl kneels in pleading with a knight turning from her to right, another girl standing behind in round frame with elaborate frame; sheet trimmed and pasted within platemark in imitation of an india proof. 1792. British Museum. Museum no. 1875,0710.3387 http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=3041464&partId=1&searchText=edward+the+black+prince&page=1

Illustration to William Shirley’s ‘Edward the Black Prince’, scene 3, from Bell’s ‘British Theatre’ series; sheet trimmed and pasted within platemark in imitation of an india proof. 1792.
British Museum.
Museum no.
1875,0710.3387
http://www.britishmuseum.org/ research/collection_online/ collection_object_details.aspx? objectId=3041464&partId= 1&searchText=edward+the +black+prince&page=1 Used under a Creative Commons License http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/

This month, Anne Musset (PhD Candidate, History of Art, University of Warwick/Université Paris-Diderot) discusses an illustration to Bell’s British Theatre:

‘This image, engraved by Joseph Collyer after William Hamilton, is an illustration of William Shirley’s historical tragedy Edward the Black Prince; or, the Battle of Poictiers. It is taken from the 1791 edition of the play in the hugely popular series Bell’s British Theatre. Shirley’s play, “attempted after the Manner of Shakespear”, was first performed in 1750 and remained popular thanks to its combination of romance and heroic action.[1] It is based on the Battle of Poitiers (1356) and stages the Black Prince as a charismatic military leader and a tender friend. A second plot focuses on the tragic love between English knight Arnold and his French prisoner Mariana. The play afforded moments of heroism and of pathos, as well as opportunities for political parallelisms and medieval pageantry.

As an illustrator, Hamilton contributed to all the major literary and historical galleries of the period. In the 1780s and 1790s he realised several vignettes and portraits for Bell’s British Theatre. The passage illustrated takes place in Act III, when Mariana and Arnold have defected to the French camp, but Arnold feels remorse at betraying his country and the Prince’s friendship. He resolves to leave Mariana and return to the English camp. Mariana, whose violent passion constantly places her on the brink of madness, attempts to prevent his departure.

The costume in Hamilton’s scene evinces a combination of styles. Mariana’s dress is rather Baroque in style, but the high waists of the ladies’ dresses correspond to the fashion of the 1790s. The slashed sleeves and ruffled collar of Mariana’s attendant are historicising details commonly found in eighteenth-century theatrical costuming to signify an earlier historical period, from the Middle Ages to the seventeenth century.[2] For Hamilton, slashed sleeves seem to be a prerequisite to the illustration of the past. Arnold’s costume is inspired by seventeenth-century rather than medieval armour. By the end of the eighteenth century, few works on costume and armour had been published in Britain, and historical painters often sought inspiration from the armouries in the Tower of London – but none of the exhibits were older than the sixteenth century. What the image achieves is an evocation of the past as the background for the sentimental drama, rather than an archaeological reconstruction of the middle ages.

The function of referring to the fourteenth century with more precision is devoted to the image’s frame: there we find direct allusions to France and England, in the form of an elaborate display of arms, armour and standards. The display has both a decorative and a narrative function. It features the banners of England and France along with a pike, a sword and a pair of gauntlets, on either side of a helmet crowned with the three ostrich feathers of the Prince of Wales and bearing his motto “Ich dien”. The frame firmly reinforces the political drama unfolding in the background, suggesting that the situation depicted originates in the political choices of monarchs, or conversely, that individual, private decisions can affect events in the political sphere. The hangings in the picture seem to merge with the armorial display of the frame, which reinforces the connection between the sentimental and the historical plots. The gauntlets on either side of the helmet appear to be holding the picture, as if presenting the image to the viewer, or exerting control over the scene. The slightly ominous gauntlets, shadow under the helmet and agitated clouds (which seem a continuation of the French standard) suggest that war will get the upper hand over the lovers.

An illustration of the historical tragedy, the image also participated in the construction of the genre of historical romance, balancing theatrical references and antiquarianism in a pathetic farewell scene. While the play claims to be staging historical fact, the illustration focuses on romance. At the same time, it retains a strong connection to the battle and the figure of the Prince of Wales thanks to its background and its highly decorative frame. Visually, the scene is reminiscent of other famous farewell scenes, such as Hector parting from Andromache or Regulus returning to Carthage – both subjects that had been regularly depicted by European artists in the second half of the century. Through such associations, the book illustration takes on aspects of history painting. As a consequence, Mariana, Arnold and British history are aligned with ancient Greek and Roman history, just as Shirley was aiming to align his own tragedy with the works of Shakespeare.’

Anne Musset
University of Warwick/Université Paris-Diderot

[1] See Jeffrey Kahan, Shakespeare Imitations, Parodies and Forgeries, 1710-1820 (Taylor & Francis, 2004), vol. 1.

[2] Diana De Marly, Costume on the Stage 1600-1940 (London: Batsford, 1982), pp.52-23.

NEW Online Resource: The Romantic Illustration Network Shakespeare Gallery

Announcing: The Romantic Illustration Network Shakespeare Gallery
 
Ready for the 2016 anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, the Romantic Illustration Network is delighted to announce its digitisation of prints from Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, courtesy of negatives provided by Professor Frederick Burwick (UCLA).
 
The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery was open to the public on London’s Pall Mall from 1789 to 1805. Featuring paintings of scenes from Shakespeare by major artists of the day, including Fuseli, Reynolds, and Kauffmann, the gallery was a popular if not a financial success.
 
Prints of the paintings were published in volumes (as well as in an illustrated edition of Shakespeare), and are now digitised here by the University of Roehampton for use under a Creative Commons license. Images are arranged alphabetically by play, and new plays will be added over the coming months, so do keep checking back on the site. We have also digitised the front matter from the volumes.
 
Click on the thumbnails to access larger versions of the images, and to view the full-sized image. Once you have clicked on a thumbnail there is space to add comments on each image, and we very much encourage you to do so.
 
If you have any feedback, questions, or suggestions, please do let us know.
 

Event Report: ‘The Art of Quotation and the Miniaturised Gallery’, RIN 4, Saturday 6 June 2015

The fourth Romantic Illustration Network symposium took place at the House of Illustration on Saturday the 6th of June. Once again the event was well-attended with a friendly mix of regulars and new faces, local and international.house-of-illustration-logo-kids-in-the-halls-column-arts-agency

We had two inter-related themes for the symposium:

1.Miniaturization: Drawing on Peter Otto’s work on virtual culture in the Romantic period, is the illustration a form of virtual gallery? How does visual meaning change when an image is resized?
2.The Art of Quotation: How were literary quotations used to conceptualise visual images? How important are framing devices to the meaning of an image?

However, speakers were free to interpret the terms ‘quotation’ and ‘miniaturised gallery’ in any way they saw fit, and to raise any other questions they chose.

We kicked off with David Worrall (Roehampton/Nottingham Trent) who presented us with his concept of ‘locations of curation’. After crediting William St Clair in RIN 3 for inspiring his quest for a new theory of illustration, Worrall explored what he described as two currently disconnected narratives – Romanticism and eighteenth-century theatre – to consider the changing moments when images interact with other objects, such as the people who view them. He used the example of theatrical portraits to demonstrate how images moved from stage, to page, to prints, to household objects.

Susan Matthews’s (Roehampton) paper interrogated questions of scale, domesticity, and artistic encounter, the idea of ‘meeting’ an artist though their illustrations. She pointed out that the name ‘House of Illustration’ (as opposed to ‘Gallery of Illustration’) is significant: we often seem to want to give illustration a ‘home’. She focused on Fuseli’s illustrations to an edition of Cowper’s popular poem The Task (1785), and revealed the awkward tensions between Fuseli’s depictions of domestic scenes and Cowper’s lines, whilst also showing that Fuseli could produce powerful images on a small scale when he really wanted to. Matthews drew parallels between Fuseli’s techniques and the recent exhibition of Paula Rego’s work at House of Illustration.

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Plate 17, The Book of Urizen William Blake Archive

From here we zoomed in still further, with Peter Otto’s (Melbourne) paper on plate 17 of Blake’s The Book of Urizen (1794). Otto gave a detailed and original reading of the plate which encompassed The Terror and images of decapitation by guillotine, the story of Adam and Eve, Perseus and the Gorgon, and the Narcissus myth to show how the plate connects primal history with events unfolding in the present through an art of visual and textual quotation. He argued that the plate illustrated a turning point in society, represented as a decapitation, and that Blake was constructing an imagined reality through quotation which in turn tries to shape or frame what reality is.

From royal executions to royal collections, Kate Heard (Royal Collection) showed us how George III and George IV both engaged with the reproductive print market, albeit in very different ways, as prints enabled middle-class consumers to gain access to items in the Royal Collection. We saw how Royal Collection items circulated as prints, so much so that satirical caricaturists could imitate them, and she argued that the print market played a crucial role in the public sense of the King. We also saw what a fantastic resource the Collection is for scholars.

Taking us through to the Victorian period, Bethan Stevens (Sussex) spoke about her work on the albums of proofs put together by the dominant mid-century London wood-engraving firm, the Dalziel family. The firm of Dalziel produced the illustrations to a vast range of literary and non-literary texts, including such classics as the Alice books and Tennyson’s Idylls of the King. Stephens showed how, in the albums, the exclusion of words affects the status, form and narrative of illustration, and provokes a new attention to illustrations as images which enables all kinds of subversive and intriguing readings.

Three Bibliographical Society Studentships were awarded: Anne Musset (Warwick/Paris-Diderot), Tessa Kilgariff (National Portrait Gallery/Bristol), and Naomi Billingsley (Manchester). We ended the day, as usual, with a period of open discussion about the broader themes of the event and the future of the network (upcoming ventures include the panel at BARS 2015 in Cardiff and the digitised Shakespeare Gallery, currently under construction). After that we adjourned to the pub, to round off a successful and fun day with a friendly drink.

Details of the BARS panel will be appearing on the blog and website soon: we hope to see you there!

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Event Report: ‘The Literary Galleries: Entrepreneurship and Public Art’, RIN 3, Friday 27 February 2015, Tate Britain

The third ‘Romantic Illustration Network’ symposium took place on Friday 27th February at the Tate Britain. Podcasts of the talks will be available on the website next week.

This symposium brought together the authors of the key scholarship on the literary galleries of the Romantic period: Fred Burwick (The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery, 1996), Rosie Dias (Exhibiting Englishness, 2013), Ian Haywood (Romanticism and Caricature, 2013), Luisa Calé (‘Blake and the Literary Galleries’, 2008; Fuseli’s Milton Gallery 2006) and Martin Myrone (Gothic Nightmares, 2006; John Martin: Apocalypse, 2011) in a venue that is itself a form of literary gallery (Tate Britain) to present new research and to debate the relationship of painting to illustration, text, and print.  To what extent did the literary galleries change the role of illustration in the Romantic period?

RIN 3 attendees at the tea break, enjoying tea and pastries.

RIN 3 attendees at the tea break, enjoying tea and pastries.

Martin Myrone, Lead Curator in Pre-1800 British Art, welcomed everyone to the Tate, before we heard from our first speakers: Rosie Dias and Ian Haywood. Dias showed us how the location of Josiah Boydell’s shop on Cheapside and Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall fitted in to the cultural geography of 18th century London. She drew upon Luisa Calé’s work to demonstrate that at the Shakespeare gallery the textual and the visual – the catalogue of Shakespeare extracts and the paintings themselves – were presented as autonomous realms that could be separated or united at will, and that attendees could choose by their physical actions to be either readers or spectators.

Ian Haywood gave a paper on Macklin’s shop the Poets’ Gallery and his exhibition and publication Gallery of British Poets. He presented a subversive close reading of the text and images published in 1794 in the fourth issue, at the height of the Terror in Paris. Luisa Calé gave a fascinating analysis of Maria Cosway’s ‘The Hours’ (the lead image on the RIN blog).

After lunch all together in the Tate café, Fred Burwick gave a paper on tableaux vivants, which argued that the stage was a kind of literary gallery in the early nineteenth-century, as artists and dramatists recreated famous paintings on stage, and in some instances turned narrative paintings into plays.

RIN 3 attendees in the Tate's galleries, in front of Barry's 'Lear'.

RIN 3 attendees in the Tate’s galleries, in front of Barry’s ‘Lear’.

We were then treated to guided tours of the Print Room and the Galleries by Assistant Curators Désirée de Chair and Clare Barlow. We looked at prints by Blake and Fuseli, as well as illustrated pages from Bell’s British Poets and a print of Barry’s ‘Lear and Cordelia’. In the galleries, we heard about Fuseli’s ‘Lady Macbeth seizing the daggers’, as well as looking closely at Barry’s enormous finished oil painting of Lear and the dead Cordelia.

After the presentation of the Bibliographical Society Studentship to Naomi Billingsley (Manchester) for her project on Blake and religious art, Martin Myrone spoke about gaps, misapprehensions, and questions of scale and authority in relation to the study of relationships between text and images, and between disciplines (such as literature, art history, book history, visual culture studies, theatre studies, etc). We rounded off the day with a discussion about the relationship between images, literature, and theatre, before heading to the White Swan for a companionable drink. The next symposium is on Saturday June 6th at the House of Illustration, and we are sure it will be as enjoyable and productive as this one! Keep an eye on the blog and the events page for details of the programme and registration.

Third RIN Symposium ‘The Literary Galleries’: REGISTRATION OPEN

Romantic Illustration Network Symposium
The Literary Galleries: Entrepreneurship and Public Art’
Supported by the University of Roehampton, the Bibliographical Society, and Tate Britain

We are  pleased to announce that the third RIN symposium is now OPEN for REGISTRATION.

Friday 27th February 2015, 10am – 5pm
Board Room and Duffield Room, Tate Britain,
Millbank, London SW1P 4RG

This symposium brings together the authors of the key scholarship on the literary galleries of the Romantic period: Fred Burwick (The Boydell Shakespeare Gallery, 1996), Rosie Dias (Exhibiting Englishness, 2013), Ian Haywood (Romantic Caricature, 2013), Luisa Cale (‘Blake and the Literary Galleries’, 2008; Fuseli’s Milton Gallery 2006) and Martin Myrone (Gothic Nightmares, 2006; John Martin: Apocalypse, 2011) in a venue that is itself a form of literary gallery (Tate Britain) to present new research and to debate the relationship of painting to illustration, text, and print.  To what extent did the literary galleries change the role of illustration in the Romantic period?

Registration:

Places are FREE but limited to 15 in total, excluding speakers and organisers. This is due to restricted access to the Print Room. To secure your place, please email Mary.Shannon@roehampton.ac.uk, providing your name, status/job title, and institution (for name badges). Places will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis and you will receive email notification. However, there will also be a waiting list. If you are unable to take up your place, please NOTIFY US BY EMAIL IN GOOD TIME so that someone else on the list may be offered your place.

We are able to offer 2 postgraduate ‘Bibliographical Society Studentships’ of £60 each to assist with the cost of attending at the symposium. Postgraduate students who live outside London are eligible. To apply, please send a CV and a statement (200 words) to Mary.Shannon@roehampton.ac.uk by Friday 6th February explaining your current research and its relevance to the interests of the Romantic Illustration Network as well as to the aims of the Bibliographical Society. Successful applicants will be notified by Tuesday 10th February.

Subject to permissions, we are hoping to record proceedings for the benefit of those unable to attend.

Programme:
10.00 Registration: meet at Staff Entrance (see map) to transfer to Board Room
10.15
Rosie Dias (Warwick), ‘Viewers, Patrons, Readers, Consumers? John Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery and its Public’
Ian Haywood (Roehampton), ‘Macklin’s Poets Gallery and the age of Terror’
11.45 tea and coffee
12.15 Luisa Calè (Birkbeck), ‘The Hours’
1-2 Lunch (attendees to make own arrangements)
2.00 Frederick Burwick (UCLA), ‘Painting and Performance: Tableaux Vivants on the London Stage’
3pm Tours of Print Room and Galleries, led by Tate facilitators
4.00 Martin Myrone (Tate), ‘Blake and the Limits of Illustration’
4.45 Open Discussion
5pm Close. Please join us for a drink nearby.

For a full programme and a map of the venue, visit https://romanticillustrationnetwork.wordpress.com/events/

New Bibliography entries added

The Network’s bibliography continues to be updated; do get in touch if you have further suggestions for entries.

Recently added:

Dias, Roemarie. ‘ “A World of Pictures”: Pall Mall and the Topography of Display, 1780-1799’ in Miles Ogborn and Charles Withers, Georgian Geographies: Space, Place and Landscape in the Eighteenth Century (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004).

Jung, Sandro. ‘Illustrated Pocket Diaries and the Commodification of Culture’,
Eighteenth-Century Life, 37.3 (2013): 53-84.

Jung, Sandro. Print Culture, High-Cultural Consumption, and Thomson’s The Seasons,
1780-1797′, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 44 (2011): 495-514.

Jung, Sandro. ‘Thomas Stothard’s Illustrations for The Royal Engagement Pocket
Atlas, 1779-1826′, The Library, 12.1 (2011): 3-22.

Thomas, Sophie. “Poetry and Illustration” in The Blackwell Companion to Romantic Poetry, ed. Charles Mahoney (Blackwell, 2011), pp. 354-373.