Prize Books and Politics: Rethinking Working-Class Life in Edwardian Britain
Digital Exhibition Launch – March 5th 2020
At the beginning of the Edwardian era (1901-1914), the British working classes, who represented 75% of the country’s total population, were one of the most literate and politically active in the world.
This was the result of more than twenty years of free and compulsory education, as well as the development of the labour movement, characterised by widespread trade unionism and socialism.
Book inscriptions offer a unique opportunity to explore the lives of working-class Edwardians, standing as important first-hand evidence of their reading habits, social circles, jobs, hobbies and political and religious beliefs. While some provide the formative voices of future Labour MPs or trade union leaders, most capture the voices of forgotten ‘everyday’ Edwardians who toiled as servants, seamstresses and miners.
Prize Books and Politics is a new digital project that brings to life many of these untold stories, encouraging fresh understandings of working-class life in Edwardian Britain.
The account can be followed on Instagram @prizebooksandpolitics and on Twitter @prizebook
‘River Landscape;, by Ambrose McEvoy, c.1910
Ambrose McEvoy’s River Landscape is one of a few watercolours from the Edwardian era (or thereabouts) featured in the current British Museum exhibition Places of the Mind: British watercolour landscapes, 1850-1950. The exhibition focusses on the hundred years following the death of J.M.W. Turner, drawing parallels between watercolourists (and the odd pastellist and draughtsman) working across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Though the show features many familiar names – from James McNeill Whistler to Paul Nash and Henry Moore – there are also plenty of unfamiliar faces within the hundred-plus exhibits.
The exhibition is hung thematically rather than chronologically, which means that works from the Edwardian era can be found throughout the room. A fair proportion of them, however, are located in the ‘a new golden age’ section, which explores the reception of watercolours from the late 1890s into the 1910s, with particular reference to the turn-of-the-century surge of interest in the work of the artist Hercules Brabazon Brabazon (1821-1906), whose fluid brushwork attracted the interest of artists associated with the New English Art Club, with whom he started exhibiting in his seventies. Other key artists in this section include Philip Wilson Steer and McEvoy. Though drawn almost entirely from the British Museum’s own extensive collection, the exhibition representations a unique opportunity to see such a large collection of works of paper from this period. Recommended to all Edwardian scholars and art lovers!
The exhibition is free and runs until August 27th. For more information see here.
‘Edwardian Britain has often been described as a golden sunlit afternoon… in fact, modern Britain was born during the reign of Edward VII, when politics, science, literature and the arts were turned upside down’ (Roy Hattersley, 2004)
Scratching The Veneer is a site-specific group exhibition located in the unique venue of the Grade I listed Edwardian Ladies cloakroom. This eclectic exhibition integrates political, social, cultural and historical narratives to expose the darker elements of Edwardian society and evoke connections with society today. The featured artists form a dialogue with the space using themes identified by the curator such as Edwardian class distinction, social hierarchy, sexual relations, sanitation and toxic beauty.
The exhibition runs from 17 November 2016, at The Edwardian Cloakroom – Ladies Side, Clifton, Bristol.
Exhibitors: Poppy Clover, Fiona Costelloe, Rose Chittenden, Heather Griffin, Sam Morgan, Ellie Shipley, Phil Toy, Toby Rainbird-Webb
Curated by Fiona Costelloe.
See here for more information.
Spencer Gore, Ballet Scene from ‘On the Sands’, 1910, Yale Center for British Art
The Yale Center for British Art – the largest collection of British art outside the UK – reopened this week after a sixteen-month building conservation project. The re-installation of the collection tells the story of British art from the sixteenth century to the present day, while a special exhibition focuses on the collection of the late Rhoda Pritzker, who purchased a wide range of twentieth-century paintings and sculpture. Several works from the long Edwardian era can currently be seen in the galleries, including the ten images listed below:
- Spencer Gore, Ballet Scene from ‘On the Sands’, 1910
- Walter Sickert, Carolina dell’Acqua, 1903-4
- Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell at her Easel, 1914
- Augustus John, Dorelia in the Garden at Alderney Manor, Dorset, c.1911
- Roger Fry, The Artist’s Garden at Durbins, Guildford, c.1915
- Alfred Munnings, Gypsy Life — The Hop Pickers, 1913
- Frank Brangwyn, Departure of the Bucintoro, 1910
- Charles Ginner, Design for Tiger Hunting Mural in the Cabaret Theatre Club, 1912
- Gwen John, Study of a Nun, Seated at a Table, c.1915
- Spencer Gore, Cambrian Road, Richmond, 1914
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
Posted in Exhibitions
Tagged alfred wolmark, art and jewish identity, coster girls, edwardian art, edwardian artists, edwardian painting, eric kennington, jacob kramer, jewish artists, mark gertler, william rothenstein
Edwardian scholars may be interested in the following exhibition, opening early next year:
Reclaiming Rose: Rose Dempster Bonnor, portrait painter (1874-1967),
Orleans House Gallery, Twickenham February – 27th April 2014
Rose Bonnor was a well-known, accomplished and prolific portrait painter of her day. Between 1894 and 1916 she exhibited thirteen paintings at the Royal Academy, eight at the Walker Gallery Liverpool and one each at the Manchester City Art Gallery and the Royal Institute of Oil Painters.
She had been a prize-winning student at Clapham School of Art, later the Camberwell School of Art, having a portrait first accepted at the Royal Academy in 1894 as a nineteen year old.
Altogether Rose produced at least eighty major portraits, many of well-known public figures. Her portrait of Lord Kenyon, lord-in-waiting to Queen Victoria, Edward VII and George V, attracted particular attention. A highly favourable review in the Evening News in 1916 concluded “…. a notable piece of work by a woman”. Lord Kenyon was one of many prominent people who commissioned a portrait from Rose. This, and the publicity such portraits attracted, established her reputation. Continue reading
The Mysterious Mr. Marsh: Crawley’s Secret Storyteller Exhibition
Exhibition Launch Night at Crawley Library, May 9th
This exhibition celebrates the life and work of Richard Marsh (1857-1915), author of a diverse range of genre fiction, but most famous for his Gothic horror, crime thrillers and Doyle-esque detective stories (although unusually featuring a female detective, Judith Lee). Marsh was enormously popular in his time. Indeed, in 1910 Marsh’s publishers felt able to call him ‘the most popular living author’, and his creepy 1897 masterpieceThe Beetle famously outsold its close rival Dracula (also 1897) for many years.
Marsh himself led a fascinating and colourful life. Indeed, the consistent blurring of boundaries between reality and fiction in his personal life (his real name, for instance, was Richard Bernard Heldmann) in many ways complemented the recurring concerns around identity that are characteristic of his writing. Marsh also lived for almost all of his professional career, and wrote his most important work, in Three Bridges (1891-1910, present-day Crawley). This exhibition aims, therefore, to raise the profile of Marsh’s work with a wider public audience, whilst engaging with him as a figure of renewed interest and emerging significance within his local, as well as broader historical, context.
Exhibition Launch Night: May 9th, 7.30pm (for an 8pm start)
Venue: Crawley Library, West Sussex
The launch itself will involve discussions with leading scholars introducing Marsh’s work, performances by members of Crawley-based theatre company Pitchy Breath adapting key scenes from his novels, and a look around the exhibition over a glass or two of complementary wine. It should be a relaxed and illuminating evening celebrating the work of this compelling writer in the town that he called home.
Limited tickets available from Crawley Library or
on-line via: www.richard-marsh.com
Exhibition runs from May 9th until August 9th, 2013.
Organised by: Dr. Graeme Pedlingham (University of Sussex)
Part of the Culture Rich project. Supported by the AHRC, University of Sussex and West Sussex County Council in partnership