A display at Tate Britain of 17th and 18th century still life paintings is one of the major outcomes of a three-year research project Court, Country, City: British Art 1660-1735 led by the University’s Department of History of Art and Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies.
The Department and the Centre are running the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project jointly with Tate Britain. It is one of the project’s aims to communicate this period of British art to a wider audience through gallery displays and online resources.
The display ‘Dead Standing Things’, which is on show until 16 September, focuses on the development of still-life painting in Britain in the period. The display’s title comes from a phrase coined in the 1650s by the author William Sanderson to describe such pictures - the more familiar term ‘still life’ (from the Dutch ‘stilleven’) appeared later. Characterised as the detailed depiction of inanimate objects, this genre of painting had been established in the Netherlands early in the seventeenth century and was introduced into Britain by Dutch painters attracted to London’s thriving art world.
The display at Tate Britain and the forthcoming conference at York offer a testament to the diversity and ambition of the ‘Court, Country, City’ project
Professor Mark Hallett
The ‘Court, Country, City’ research project, launched in October 2009, has sought to stimulate new approaches to British visual culture from 1660-1735, a period that saw profound changes in the nation's character. Revolutionary transformations in politics and society coincided with a similarly important period of transformation in the visual arts.
The later decades of the 18th century - the 'age of Hogarth and Reynolds' - have been relatively well explored by art historians; however, the art of the preceding period has not been recovered or interpreted in the same depth. Court, Country, City: British Art 1660-1735 redresses this art-historical imbalance, and provides a set of fresh perspectives on the art of late-Stuart and early Georgian Britain.
A major conference Histories of British Art 1660-1735: Reconstruction and Transformation in York in September will mark the end of the ‘Court, Country, City’ project. The three-day conference will feature, amongst many others, the distinguished art-historians Malcolm Baker, of the University of California; Diana Dethloff and Charles Ford, of University College London; and David Solkin, of the Courtauld Institute of art.
The principal investigator of the project, and Head of History of Art at York, Professor Mark Hallett, said: "The display at Tate Britain and the forthcoming conference at York offer a testament to the diversity and ambition of the ‘Court, Country, City’ project, and showcase the wide-ranging and highly original new art-historical scholarship that is emerging on British art of this period. They also provide us with the chance to look closely at, and learn more about, some especially interesting and alluring works of art."