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Investigating British art’s forgotten era

Posted on 2 February 2009

New light will be shone on a neglected period of British art history as the result of a major research project.

The investigation into British art between 1660 and 1735 will be conducted by Professor Mark Hallett, head of the Department of History of Art and a member of the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York, working with Tate Britain and will involve the study of an array of artists including Peter Lely, Godfrey Kneller, Francis Barlow and James Thornhill.

The awarding of this grant recognises the University of York’s status as a leading international centre for the study of British art

Professor Mark Hallett

The project will consider the influence of the royal court as a centre of artistic patronage and display, and investigate the role of the arts in the numerous new aristocratic houses which were built in the period. It will also look at the vibrant world of painting, engraving and sculpture to be found in British towns and cities in this period – including London as it recovered from the Great Fire.

This is a three-year study, supported by a £477,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which will inform the programme of displays and exhibitions at Tate Britain, and lead to a study-day and an international two-day conference at York.

Professor Hallett said: "We will be focusing on an era that has tended to be overshadowed by the achievements of earlier artists, such as Van Dyck, or those that came later, such as Hogarth. In reality this was a remarkably rich, vibrant and cosmopolitan period for the visual arts in Britain.

"The awarding of this grant recognises the University of York’s status as a leading international centre for the study of British art and will strengthen our growing links with Tate Britain."

Tate Britain and Professor Hallett have worked together previously on three exhibitions. Most recently he was co-curator of the landmark 2007 exhibit of work by William Hogarth. This exhibition originally opened at The Louvre and was the first major display of Hogarth’s work ever to be shown in France.

In all, a team of six people will work on the project, which will begin in October 2009.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • More information about the Department of History of Art can be found at www.york.ac.uk/history-of-art.
  • More information about the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies can be found at www.york.ac.uk/inst/cecs/.
  • Arts and Humanities Research Council: Each year the AHRC provides approximately £100 million from the Government to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities, from archaeology and English literature to design and dance. In any one year, the AHRC makes approximately 700 research awards and around 1,000 postgraduate awards. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.
  • Tate website is at www.tate.org.uk

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