CFP: ‘To show a foreigner England’: Englishness and the Edwardian Landscape

The Blue Pool, 1911 (oil on panel), John, Augustus Edwin (1878-1961) © The estate of Augustus John. Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum, Scotland / Bridgeman Images.

The Blue Pool, 1911 (oil on panel), John, Augustus Edwin (1878-1961) © The estate of Augustus John. Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum, Scotland / Bridgeman Images.

In 2016, the Edwardian Culture Network will take a break from its annual two-day conference. We are nevertheless very excited to be working with the Royal West of England Academy on the following one-day event. N.B. This call for papers is open to those currently working on a postgraduate qualification, or to those who finished their PhD after 2012:

CFP: ‘To show a foreigner England’: Englishness and the Edwardian Landscape

Royal West of England Academy, Bristol, April 11th 2016.

This one-day symposium – coinciding with the exhibition Inquisitive Eyes: Slade Painters in Edwardian Wessex – takes as its starting point the following quotation from E.M. Forster’s novel Howard’s End (1910):

If one wanted to show a foreigner England, perhaps the wisest course would be to take him to the final section of the Purbeck Hills, and stand him on their summit, a few miles to the east of Corfe. Then system after system of our island would roll together under his feet.

Forster’s comment suggests that the rolling hills of the South West should be taken as a synecdoche for England. Taking our cues from this idea – but expanding the discussion to include other regions also – we will address a range of important questions: where was Englishness located at the turn of the century, and why? What made a landscape especially English, or distinctly not-English? What role did artist’s colonies play in understanding and promoting particular landscapes in the national consciousness? How important was landscape to the development of modern art in England? How was the English landscape marketed to audiences outside England, especially the wider Empire? Finally, how did depictions of the landscape by writers such as Thomas Hardy affect visual artists?

Although many of the questions raised by the exhibition are art-historical in nature, we welcome speakers and participants from other disciplines, including literature, cultural geography and history. We have already identified and contacted a small group of established academics, who have agreed to take part in our discussions. These include figures who have written widely on the subject,  some of whom contributed to the 2002 publication Geographies of Englishness: Landscape and the National Past, the influence of which we wish to acknowledge. In the thirteen years since this publication, however, research into early twentieth-century British art, national identity and Empire has expanded greatly, and new thinkers have entered the field. To this end, three-four graduate/early-career researchers will be selected to speak at the symposium. To be eligible, you must be currently working on an MA or PhD, or have completed a PhD after 2012. Speakers will receive a £100 grant to support travel and accommodation. To apply, please send a 300 word proposal, along with a one-page CV, to by January 16th.

This event has been generously supported by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and will be hosted by the Royal West of England Academy.

Review: Fin de siècle essays on the photographic nude


James Downs (ed.), A Carnal Medium: fin-de-siècle essays on the photographic nude. Portsmouth: Callum James Books, 2012.

A Carnal Medium. Fin de siècle essays on the photographic nude is a collection of ten articles originally published in three journals during the period 1893-1898. These articles were addressed to a specialist (though not necessarily professional) readership rather than a general one, but then – as now – there was a large crossover between amateur and professional in photography. The writers could therefore assume a degree of knowledge of techniques and processes on the part of the readership which is not generally held in the digital age of the twenty-first century.

The articles all address the problems – both practical and ethical – presented by photographing the nude figure, but taken together they also generate a discussion on the role of the nude in photography and on the relationship of photography to painting. While this is mainly general, it also includes one photographer’s replies to specific points raised in an article by a fellow photographer to create an interesting public dialogue. Continue reading

Early Career Researchers in British Art

Harold Gilman, "Stanislawa de Karlowska", c. 1913  (Yale Center for British Art)

Harold Gilman, “Stanislawa de Karlowska”, c. 1913 (Yale Center for British Art)

Edwardian scholars may be interested in the Early Career Researchers in British Art Network, the aim of which is to support ECRs working in the field of British art history. The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art will host regular afternoon gatherings where members can gather to present short papers, offer one another feedback, discuss their experiences and share information about career-related topics. They also hope to invite speakers to give career development advice, and to workshops on popular topics if there is demand. Their website includes a list of researchers, events, and featured ‘research journeys’. They will be hosting three events in the coming semester, details of which can be found here.

The Edwardian Royal Academy: 1900

Arthur Wardle 'An Idyll of Summer'

Arthur Wardle ‘An Idyll of Summer’

Although it has long been conventional art-historical wisdom that by the
early twentieth century, the Royal Academy (and academic practice more
generally) was irrelevant to serious art and artists, it remained, in fact,
extremely influential. The annual summer exhibitions continued to be
major events, attracting an average of 12,000 submissions (with about 2,000 of them accepted for hanging) and 280,000 visitors each year. And press coverage of the Academy actually increased during these years, as the
flood of ‘new-journalism’-style tabloid papers and lifestyle magazines
covered the Academy as both an artistic and a social event, providing
details of the crowd, conversation and atmosphere. (Pamela Fletcher, ‘Human Character and Character-Reading at the Edwardian Royal Academy’, Visual Culture in Britain, 14:1, p. 25)

The continuing influence of the Royal Academy throughout the Edwardian Era has, as Pamela Fletcher’s comment attests, received little attention from art historians, most of whom are happy to swallow the notion that their exhibitions were a worthless parade of sentimental narrative paintings, eccentric historical re-enactments, dull landscapes and pompous portraits; anathema to any forward-thinking individual. The relative invisibility of many popular Royal Academy paintings – now hiding in gallery storage, or in private collections – makes it hard to stage a recovery. The digitisation of documents such as the annual ‘Royal Academy Illustrated’ (copies of which can be found on, among other resources) does, however, gives us a generous glimpse into the weird, wonderful and engaging world of the Edwardian Royal Academy, as this series of posts hopes to show. See more highlights below!

Royal Academy Illustrated 1900 (link to catalogue)

J. T. Nettleship, 'Into the Silent Sea'

J. T. Nettleship, ‘Into the Silent Sea’

Continue reading

CFP: A Beautiful Role: Architecture and the Display of Art

Recent installation of Edwardian art at the Tate Gallery

Recent installation of Edwardian art at the Tate Gallery

Edwardian scholars may be interested in the following CFP:

Yale Center for British Art: Graduate Student Symposium

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Painting and sculpture play a beautiful role in the realm of architecture, as architecture plays a beautiful role in the realms of painting and sculpture.[1]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           —Louis I. Kahn (1960)

The Yale Center for British Art—designed by Louis Kahn and completed in 1975—has recently undergone an extensive program of conservation. To mark the reopening of the building, and the complete reinstallation of the collection, the Center will be hosting a conference to investigate the role that buildings play in the display of art.

Our experience of objects is greatly influenced by their setting, whether in the home of a collector, in a museum display, in a storage rack, or on a computer screen. This conference will focus on museum architecture and explore where it has been and where it is going. Seeking to inspire fresh thinking about the relationship between works of art and the buildings that contain them, the conference will address the ways in which architecture can enhance, limit, and transform our encounters with art. Graduate students of all disciplines—including art, design, architecture and architectural history, and museum studies—are invited to submit proposals for papers that examine the ways in which architecture influences our experience of art.

Topics could include, but are not limited to: Continue reading

Exhibition: Rothenstein’s Relevance


The exhibition ‘Rothenstein’s Relevance: Sir William Rothenstein and his Circle’ will open at the Ben Uri Gallery on Boundary Road in London on September 11th. It will be Ben Uri’s first exhibition on this hugely influential figure and is a partial tour of the Bradford exhibition, From Bradford to Benares: the art of Sir William Rothenstein (Cartwright Hall Gallery, 7 March – 12 July 2015), reconfigured for its London showing.

The exhibition comprises approximately 40 works including paintings, works on paper and archival material and aims to re-examine the significance, influence and continuing importance of Rothenstein’s artistic achievements. The exhibition will examine major themes from Rothenstein’s career including Jewish subjects, portraiture and figure studies (in Paris, London and Gloucestershire) and the First and Second World Wars. These will be contextualised by work on similar themes by a number of mostly younger contemporaries including Barnett Freedman, Mark Gertler, Eric Kennington, Jacob Kramer, Albert Rutherston and Alfred Wolmark, who were all either influenced directly by, or worked alongside, Rothenstein. Continue reading

Edwardian Encounters: Jacob Kramer – A Study in Resolvable Contradictions

Self-Portrait by Jacob Kramer, 1930

Self-Portrait by Jacob Kramer, 1930

Since July 2, 2015, the Ben Uri Gallery has been celebrating its hundredth year in London. Founded in July, 1915, by a Russian Jew, the gallery has, in the course of a century, exhibited the work of Eastern European (largely Pale-of-Settlement born) Jewish painters living in England.

In “Ben Uri at 100”, David Herman splits these painters into two groups (roughly pre- and post-World War II) and notes the “variety and vitality of modern Jewish art and its complicated relationship with modern Jewish history”. Herman argues that the so-called “Whitechapel Boys,” who came of age at the turn of the century, among them the Vorticist fellow-traveler Mark Gertler, Isaac Rosenberg, and Jacob Kramer, expressed clear interest in Jewish-identified themes. Conversely, the post-war, post-Holocaust generation, which featured such luminaries as Lucien Freud and Frank Auerbach, fought shy of Jewish content and only, somehow, expressed Jewishness through formal “darkness.”

Jacob Kramer clearly does not fit into the generational or identitarian binaries outlined by Herman. Continue reading