Print, Politics and Industrialisation : Graphic Landscape

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This event is part of the online conference programme 'Graphic Landscape: The Landscape Print Series in Britain, c.1775–1850'

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12.00–12.10 Introduction by Mark Hallett (Director, Paul Mellon Centre) and Felicity Myrone (Lead Curator, Western Prints and Drawings, British Library)

12.10–12.30 Amy Concannon (Senior Curator, Historic British Art, Tate), ‘A captur’d city blazed’: Printmaking and the Bristol Riots of 1831

12.30–12.50 Lizzie Jacklin (Keeper of Art, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums ), Mining Landscapes: Thomas Hair’s Views of the Collieries

12.50–13.00 Comfort break

13.00–13.20 Morna O’Neill (Associate Professor of Art History, Art Department, Wake Forest University) , John Constable, David Lucas and Steel in English Landscape

13.20–14.00 Panel discussion and questions

Amy Concannon, ‘A Captur’d City Blazed’: Printmaking and the Bristol Riots of 1831

This paper will take as its starting point a sheet of ten lithographs depicting the Bristol riots of 29–31 October 1831. These riots took place in the wake of Parliament’s rejection of the first bill for political reform. The sheet bears witness to how Bristol became, overnight, the mouthpiece of national tension and its cityscape a symbol of a country divided, as public buildings burnt and crumbled into ruins. Published soon after the riots by leading London lithographer, Charles Hullmandel, after works by Bristol-based artists James Baker Pyne and William James Müller, it is a work of swift and collaborative opportunism that capitalised on a moment of high drama. Its use of lithography, meanwhile, echoed the means by which French artists Hippolyte Bellangé, Honoré Daumier and Eugéne Lami circulated their depictions of the July Revolution of 1830. The Bristol sheet will be discussed in relation to another lithographic project for which the riots were the impetus: John Skinner Prout’s Picturesque Antiquities of Bristol (1834). Together these series – one collaborative project with a distinctive mis-en-page and another solo endeavour through which images are encountered in foliated sequence – will inspire reflections on how a city’s image may unfold through serialisation, thoughts on the series itself as a form of production and as a way for artists working in regional centres to draw on their local knowledge, professional network and raise their profile and that of their locale.

Lizzie Jacklin, Mining Landscapes: Thomas Hair’s Views of the Collieries

‘The coal-mines of the north occupy a prominent position in the scale of national production and commerce; but… their appearance has been considered… so repulsive, as to forbid the investigations of the artist.’

This paper focuses on Thomas Hair’s Views of the Collieries in the Counties of Northumberland and Durham of 1844. In preparation for this publication, Hair made a series of topographical watercolours (now in the collection of the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University) revealing the impact of coal mining on the northern landscape. While the industry’s legacy is felt in the region to this day, by the 1960s few of the colliery buildings survived outside of Hair’s depictions. As such, the watercolours and prints provide a key historical record of a significant but ultimately transient change to the northern landscape, albeit one with lasting effects.

The paper aims to expand the dialogue around Hair’s endeavour by considering it in the context of the landscape print series and wider issues surrounding the consumption and categorisation of this kind of material. The publication’s preface, as quoted from above, suggests a conscious choice to record something that was otherwise ignored by the artists of Hair’s time; the truth and implications of this claim will also be explored and the legacy of his printed record of the northeast’s mining landscapes considered.

Morna O’Neill, John Constable, David Lucas and Steel in English Landscape

In the late 1820s, John Constable embarked on a publication of mezzotints, Various Subjects of Landscape, Characteristic of English Scenery, from Pictures Painted by John Constable, R.A., now typically referred to as English Landscape Scenery or English Landscape. Engraved by David Lucas, the mezzotints were published in parts between 1830 and 1832 but Constable republished the series in 1833 with extensive revisions. This paper will explore Constable’s choice of steel as the matrix for these prints. The original plates for English Landscape, a number of which survive in the collection of Tate Britain, came from G. Harris & Co. which traded as George Harris until 1832 and then became William Eastwood. As Anthony Griffiths has noted, the rise of steel had profound consequences for the print trade. The implications ranged from the practical to the symbolic. The hardness of steel made it more difficult to work but ensured a longer print run. For some critics, its wider acceptance by the end of the 1820s signalled a decline – a loss of depth and richness – as the method came to be associated with technical illustration. This talk will explore the use of steel plates in order to reconsider artistic identity in English Landscape, especially in relation to artisanal identity and industry. By focusing on the extant steel plates, the correspondence between Constable and Lucas as it pertains to corrections and retouching, as well as what these negotiations reveal about the dynamic between painter and printmaker, I situate Constable, Lucas and the works they created together within an emerging culture of the industrialisation of print.

Image Credit: 1. Joseph Brown after Thomas Harrison Hair, Percy Pit, 1844, etching, 28.4 x 38 cm. The British Museum (1978,U.669). Digital image courtesy of The Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

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