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ARTH 226 Lecture Notes - Alois Senefelder, Henry Fox Talbot, Industrial Revolution

Art History & Communications
Course Code
ARTH 226
Matthew C.Hunter

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ARTH 226
Thursday Nov 8
Daguerre, Talbot and the Inventions of Photography
Three artists all born in 1730s, all hailing from not heart of cultural life (like Chardin and David),
but hailing from distances
o Emerging industrial centers - Joseph Wright
o Emerging crucial colonial center of North America - Benjamin West
o Important colonial court of Boston - John Singleton Copley
Wright: moving in midst of highly energized scientific culture of British midlands
Closely connected, patronized by leading figures in lunar society in Birmingham - society that
integrates important figures like Jospeh Arkwright, Josiah Wedgwood
Takes science and technological innovations for centerpieces of his art
o Ex. An Experiment on a Bird on the Air Pump
Benjamin West:
Taking up highest academic genre of history painting which is essential to dignity of long 18th
Not mere mechanic or craftsman, dignity of this kind of artist stands apart from his capacity to
rival from arts of poetry and literature in using images that can tell a story and speak to general
concerns of human subject/modern citizen
West, hailing from afar, (Philadelphia), having come to Britain upon finishing Grand Tour,
bankrolled by wealthy syndicate, taking scene from British war, insists on depiction of that event
in its modern particularity
o Death of General Wolfe (1770, oil on canvas)
Representing modern actions that happened in particular places and modern times in
modern garb
Artist should be as West says, a watchman over his times, projecting over future and
to eyes of world, a view of events happening in the present and communicating them
to the future
Self-consciously modern position being articulated by West
Good grounds for thinking about West as modern artist
James Gilray, Titianus redivius, -or- the seven wise-men consulting the new Venetian oracle
o Benjamin West becomes ensnared in early 1790s
o Monkey peeing in toes of Appolo Belvedere on left
o Behind Donkey's behind, we see building crumbling, as if edifice of knowledge is crumbling
o Meanwhile, reynolds is rising up from grave, hearing prospects of wonderful manuscript of
Titian being recovered
o West, meanwhile, is retreating from scene as whole episode is about to be brought to life
(on right)
What we get from Gilray is stylization of Zophany's early depiction of newly formed royal academy
Like Joshua Reynolds before him, and many other artists of our period, West was seduced by the
sentuous, colouristic capacities of artists such as Titian
Following on from predecessor Reynolds as second president of Royal Academy, West takes over
Following on from Reynold's own utilization of chemical preparation
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