Changing Approaches to Histories of British Art, 1660–1735

Lydia Hamlett, University of Cambridge
Claudine van Hensbergen, Northumbria University

 The last decade has seen a growing interest in new approaches to British visual culture in the decades around the turn of the 18th century (c.1660–1735), addressing the art-historical imbalance that saw this period overshadowed by attention to the ages of van Dyck (the 17th century) and Hogarth and Reynolds (the 18th century). Much of this work has understood art of these decades in the context of 18th-century developments in Britain, paying less attention to its relationship with visual culture of the 17th century and the wider European context. This session invites participants to consider the extent to which this has skewed our understanding of British visual culture of this period, and to chart new directions in research and exhibition-making, resituating the period of enquiry to include the long 17th century.

Where recent exhibitions have explored the period’s art (for example, ‘Charles I: King and Collector’ at the Royal Academy (RA) and ‘Charles II: Art & Power’ at the Royal Collection), the focus has continued to fall on the court as the seat of the Arts in the period. Participants will interrogate the extent to which this was true, and propose new methodologies for research and exhibition-making. The session hopes to recover some of the multiple and varied histories of art taking shape in Britain in the period, with special attention to the influential contribution of migrant artists, the development of the print market, and to works emerging from intermedial collaborations.


Representational Revolutions: Trompe l’oeil still life paintings, medley prints and collage in the long 17th century
Freya Gowrley (University of Derby)

English House, French Style: Striking a fashion coup with tapestry in the reign of William and Mary
Amy Lim (University of Oxford/Tate)

Partners in Prints: Jacopo Amigoni, Josef Wagner and the development of the British print market
Katherine McHale (Independent Scholar)

The Cartographic Frontispiece as an Imperial Art Form in Restoration Britain
Peter Moore (English Heritage)

Of Britons-cum-‘Others’: The Imperialising force of ‘Britishness’ in colonial American portraits
Susan Rawles (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA)





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