The imagery of travel in British painting : with particular reference to nautical and maritime imagery, circa 1740-1800

Doctoral thesis English OPEN
Quilley, Geoff
  • Subject: ND

The dissertation is divided into two sections, dealing with the positive and\ud negative faces of travel and the sea in visual art, each further subdivided by chapter.\ud Following the introduction, Chapter 2 deals with cartography, providing a\ud broad context for the cultural reception of travel imagery. Chapter 3 discusses Thames\ud imagery. It is argued that the increased interest in the river as a pictorial subject was\ud part of a growing view of London as the metropolis of a grand commercial empire,\ud whereby the Thames was aligned to the construction of the imperial nation. Chapter 4\ud examines metropolitan contexts for travel and maritime imagery. Conflicts are noticed\ud between the image of navigation as a sign for commerce, and the marginalization of\ud marine artists from polite artistic society. Patterns of patronage also indicate an\ud ideological and actual distancing of the maritime nation from maritime communities.\ud The second section turns to the image of the sea as a negative force in British\ud culture. After an introduction, Chapter 5 examines the problematic depiction of the\ud lower deck sailor, as a contradictory figure in national culture. Chapter 6 looks at how\ud smugglers and wreckers were visualized, as wreckers both of individual ships, and of\ud the larger ship of the commercial state, which assumed markedly political connotations\ud in the 1790s. Chapter 7 considers the slave trade, especially the implications of the\ud absence of imagery dealing positively with such an important component of the\ud maritime nation's prosperity. It is argued that the force of abolitionist images relies\ud upon inversions of pictorial conventions. Chapter 8 examines the wider significance of\ud shipwreck imagery, in relation to shipwreck literature. Discussion of illustrations to\ud Falconer's poem, The Shipwreck, is extended to the wider field of the shipwreck\ud narrative. By providing a vehicle for the expression of native virtues, shipwreck\ud reinforced British identity's being located with the sea, at the same time as it was\ud shown stricken by disaster.\ud The Conclusion considers further how national concerns and values were\ud mediated by the image of maritime disaster. Through a consideration of\ud Loutherbourg's work of the 1790s, it is argued that the aesthetic of the maritime, by\ud being increasingly interleaved with the sublime, permeated a wide variety of imagery.\ud But the naturalization of the nation in the sublimity of the sea represented it continually\ud on the verge of disintegration. For a maritime nation enduring the crises of naval\ud mutiny and continual threat of invasion by sea, this was peculiarly apposite.
  • References (140)
    140 references, page 1 of 14

    100.P.W. Tomkins after Mather Brown, The Final Interview of Louis the Sixteenth, engraving, 1795, 54.3 x 65.4cm., London, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings

    101.James Gillray, Un Petit Souper a la Parisienne - or - A Family of SansCulottes refreshing after the fatigues of the day, engraving, 1792, 23.5 x 24.3cm., London, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings

    102.James Gillray, The Genius of France Triumphant - or - BRITANNIA petitioning for PEACE, coloured aquatint, 1795, 22.2 x 33.7cm., London, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings

    103.William Jackson, Liverpool Slave Ship, oil on canvas, c.1780, 104.0 x 109.0cm., National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside, Merseyside Maritime Museum

    104.William Grainger after Thomas Stothard, The Voyage of the Sable Venus from Angola to the West Indies, engraving, illustration to The Sable Venus: An Ode in Bryan Edwards, The History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies of the West Indies (3rd edition, London, 1801), preface

    105.James Mason after George Robertson, A View in the Island of Jamaica of the Spring-head of Roaring River, engraving, 1778, 40.2 x 55.6cm., London, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings

    106.Josiah Wedgwood, 'Am I not a Man and a Brother?', medallion, jasperware, 1787, 3.5cm. diam., Barlaston, Wedgwood Museum

    107.John Raphael Smith after George Morland, The Slave Trade, mezzotint, 1791, 48.1 x 65.4cm. London, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings

    108.John Raphael Smith after George Morland, African Hospitality, mezzotint, 1791, 48.1 x 65.4cm., London, British Museum, Department of Prints and Drawings

    118.Armstrong after William Craig, The Parting of Palemon and Anna, engraving, 1803; illustration for William Falconer, The Shipwreck (London, printed by J. Cundee, Ivy-Lane, for T. Hurst, Paternoster Row, 1803)

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