Exhibitions

Edouard Manet - Berthe Morisot au soulier rose

Elizabeth Berkowitz, “The 1910 ‘Manet and the Post – Impressionists’ Exhibition: Importance and Critical Issues”

“The 1910 ‘Manet and the Post-Impressionists’ Exhibition: Importance and Critical Issues” summarizes both the key historical aspects of the 1910 “Manet and the Post-Impressionists” exhibition, and the historiographic disputes that have arisen in relation to it. This article addresses the degree to which the term and art historical category “Post-Impressionism,” coined for this exhibition, represents a critical construction, rather than a genuine stylistic demarcation. In addition, this article counters the scholarly misperception that the vitriolic response to the 1910 exhibition was a product of British cultural ignorance of late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century continental Modern art.

Photo of Japanese Village by W.S. Gilbert

Wendy S. Williams, “‘Free-and-Easy,’ ‘Japaneasy’: British Perceptions and the 1885 Japanese Village”

This essay examines press reviews and accounts of the Japanese Village in London from newspapers and periodicals in 1885. These show that although writers were fairly confident that they “knew” the Japanese culture, they had only a superficial understanding of it, and they often depicted Japanese people as simple, coarse, and inferior. These writings largely reflect British feelings of superiority, enchantment, and confusion regarding Japan, a quickly progressing country that was not easy to classify.

Figure 3: John Singer Sargent, sketch of Alice Meynell (née Thompson), 1894 (pencil, 14 1/4 in. x 8 1/4 in., 362 mm x 210 mm, © National Portrait Gallery, London

Meaghan Clarke, “1894: The Year of the New Woman Art Critic”

In 1894, satirical journals such as Punch mockingly identified the phenomenon of the New Woman, as found in novels, plays and articles, as an intellectual and independent figure. These mannish representations of professional women seem impossible to reconcile with the aesthetic and fashionable realms of late Victorian art and culture. Studies have frequently considered the role of Victorian women as models or sitters—objects of a male artist’s inspiration. However, other career paths for women were possible. Many women were successful artists and an alternative entrée into the art world was journalism. This article will posit that women art journalists provided a living example of professional opportunities for intellectual New Women. Although their work has been largely left out of accounts of the period, they contributed to key developments in art history at the end of the century. To begin with, I will touch on the history of art writing and its development as a professional avenue for women. Then, I will explore specific themes in order to consider the diversity of their critical responses to contemporary British art circa 1894. This will encompass women’s writings on Pre-Raphaelite and academic artists as “celebrities,” groups influenced by French Impressionism in Newlyn and St. Ives, London Impressionists and Glasgow Boys, as well as art and culture beyond Britain.

Julie Codell, “On the Grosvenor Gallery, 1877-90″

Julie Codell, “On the Grosvenor Gallery, 1877-90″

The Grosvenor Gallery (1877-90), founded by Sir Coutts Lindsay and Lady Caroline Blanche Elizabeth Fitzroy (a Rothschild on her mother’s side) on 135-37 New Bond Street in London, generated a seismic change in the conventional Victorian art world in its exhibition of then avant-garde artists like Edward Burne-Jones, James McNeill Whistler and G. F Watts, and other leading members of the Aesthetic Movement, such as Frederic Leighton. Its unique methods of display, invitations to exhibit, support of women artists, and stunning building and interior decoration marked its ties to the Aesthetic Movement and its challenge to the Royal Academy.

Barbara Leckie, “Prince Albert’s Exhibition Model Dwellings”

Barbara Leckie, “Prince Albert’s Exhibition Model Dwellings”

This paper discusses Prince Albert’s Exhibition Model Dwellings built just off the grounds of the Great Exhibition in 1851. These model dwellings, designed by the architect Henry Roberts, contributed to growing efforts to place the mid-century crisis in housing of the poor at the forefront of public attention. They also made vivid the intersection of print culture and the built environment in three ways. First, they were a response to decades of print exposés of existing housing of the poor. Second, Roberts wrote a pamphlet, a how-to guide of sorts, on the Exhibition Model Dwellings as well as a book on model dwellings in general, The Dwellings of the Labouring Classes, that went into four editions. Finally, the Exhibition Model Dwellings were the topic of many contemporary print commentaries. These latter print commentaries will be the focus of this article. I want both to return the Exhibition Model Dwellings to the prominence they carried in the mid-Victorian period and to explore their contribution to the period’s conflicted response to the crisis in existing housing of the poor with respect to transparency, health, subject formation, and national identity.

Anne Clendinning, “On The British Empire Exhibition, 1924-25″

Anne Clendinning, “On The British Empire Exhibition, 1924-25″

The British Empire Exhibition, held in 1924 and 1925, assembled the member nations of the empire to develop imperial trade connections and to cultivate closer political ties between Britain and her territories. A commercial, educational and imperial spectacle, the exhibition reminded Britons of the material and political value of the empire, as the nation struggled to recover from the economic impact of the Great War. For some colonial participants, however, the British Empire Exhibition enabled them to present a distinct national identity in pursuit of greater autonomy from Britain, while for others, it provided a forum in which to critique racial discrimination within the empire.

Figure 4: Abu Simbel at the Crystal Palace Sydenham

Anne Helmreich, “On the Opening of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, 1854″

The Crystal Palace at Sydenham represents a number of key paradigms in Victorian culture: the emphasis upon visuality as a means of acquiring and conveying knowledge, the use of display as a vehicle of both education and entertainment, the desire to construct unifying historical narratives, and the emphasis upon rational recreation.

Audrey Jaffe, “On the Great Exhibition”

Audrey Jaffe, “On the Great Exhibition”

This entry considers the Great Exhibition in the context of Victorian England’s developing commodity culture and the forms of attention and distraction produced in relation to it. It discusses the stated purposes of the Exhibition, but is more interested in its experiential qualities: the way the movement of visitors was structured by the layout of hallways and rooms, the effect of the semi-transparent walls, and the sense of bewilderment that appears frequently in visitors’ accounts.

Aviva Briefel, “On the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition”

Aviva Briefel, “On the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition”

This essay explores the 1886 Colonial and Indian Exhibition, focusing specifically on its unprecedented display of 34 Indian artisans. It contextualizes this display in relation to Victorian discourses that lamented the disappearance of the British working body through mechanization, and that conflated the authenticity of South Asian crafts with the presence of “genuine” Indian bodies.