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CECS Day Conference

Saturday 28 June 2014, 9.30AM to 5.30pm


Portraiture: Exchanges, debates and performances, 1700-1840

Convenor: Emma Major, University of York


  • Anna Bonewitz
  • Elizabeth Eger
  • Kamilla Elliott
  • Joanna de Groot
  • Cora Kaplan
  • Jon Mee
  • Eric Miller
  • Emma Major
  • Lucy Pelz
  • Kate Retford

 portraiture 2014 conference poster

This day conference opens up discussion about portraiture in all its forms. Lucy Peltz will discuss portraiture in extra-illustration and its role in the selling of history. Kate Retford and Jon Mee debate portraiture and conversation pieces. Kamilla Elliott looks at the downward mobility of portraiture in Britain in the 1790s. Eric Miller and Anna Bonewitz bring a transatlantic dimension to the day with their papers on Elizabeth Simcoe in Upper Canada and John Singleton Copley in Boston, while Joanna De Groot turns her attention to imperialism and portraiture in India. Elizabeth Eger talks about Allan Ramsay and Enlightenment portraiture. Emma Major talks about the cross-dressing actress Madam Vestris and her celebrated legs. Cora Kaplan thinks about the representation of female authorship in the early nineteenth century. Please join us for a visual and intellectual feast on 28 June.



 9.15-9.45 registration and coffee

9.45 - 11.15. Talking pictures

Kate Retford, Birkbeck College, University of London. Talking Conversation Pieces

Jon Mee, University of York. ‘A Speaking Likeness’: When is a portrait a conversation piece?

Kamilla Elliott, Lancaster University. Portraiture and Political Representation in the 1790s.

11.15-11.30 Coffee

11.30-1. Picturing abroad

Anna Bonewitz, University of York. Cosmopolitan Style in Colonial Boston: Female Networks and the Picturing of Ideal Womanhood in John Singleton Copley’s Turquerie Portraits, 1763-1774

Eric Miller, University of Victoria. ‘This juncture of the most particular crisis’: Lady Elizabeth Simcoe’s portraits of Native people in Upper Canada

Joanna de Groot, University of York. Gender, power, and cultural hybridity: case studies of imperialism and portraiture in India c.1770-1800.

1-2.15 lunch

2.15- 3.45. Portraits and professions

Elizabeth Eger, King’s College, University of London. ‘A Harmony of Minds’: Allan Ramsay’s portraits of Enlightenment knowledge.

Cora Kaplan, Queen Mary, University of London, and University of Southampton. Title TBC - ‘"Not the remotest resemblance": Portraits, affect and feminist identifications’.

Emma Major, University of York. Apollo in Tights: Madame Vestris’ professional portraits.

3.45-4.00 coffee

4.00-5.00  Booking portraits and roundtable discussion.

Lucy Peltz, National Portrait Gallery. Facing Britain’s History: Portraiture, Entrepreneurship and the Early Extra-illustrated Book from Clarendon to Vertue.


Registration online at :


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Registration Fee is £35. This includes entry, sandwich lunch and teas/coffees. Members of University of York: Free to attend, but you must register online.

Location: K/133