The imagery of travel in British painting : with particular reference to nautical and maritime imagery, circa 1740-1800
The dissertation is divided into two sections, dealing with the positive and negative faces of travel and the sea in visual art, each further subdivided by chapter. Following the introduction, Chapter 2 deals with cartography, providing a broad context for the cultural reception of travel imagery. Chapter 3 discusses Thames imagery. It is argued that the increased interest in the river as a pictorial subject was part of a growing view of London as the metropolis of a grand commercial empire, whereby the Thames was aligned to the construction of the imperial nation. Chapter 4 examines metropolitan contexts for travel and maritime imagery. Conflicts are noticed between the image of navigation as a sign for commerce, and the marginalization of marine artists from polite artistic society. Patterns of patronage also indicate an ideological and actual distancing of the maritime nation from maritime communities. The second section turns to the image of the sea as a negative force in British culture. After an introduction, Chapter 5 examines the problematic depiction of the lower deck sailor, as a contradictory figure in national culture. Chapter 6 looks at how smugglers and wreckers were visualized, as wreckers both of individual ships, and of the larger ship of the commercial state, which assumed markedly political connotations in the 1790s. Chapter 7 considers the slave trade, especially the implications of the absence of imagery dealing positively with such an important component of the maritime nation's prosperity. It is argued that the force of abolitionist images relies upon inversions of pictorial conventions. Chapter 8 examines the wider significance of shipwreck imagery, in relation to shipwreck literature. Discussion of illustrations to Falconer's poem, The Shipwreck, is extended to the wider field of the shipwreck narrative. By providing a vehicle for the expression of native virtues, shipwreck reinforced British identity's being located with the sea, at the same time as it was shown stricken by disaster. The Conclusion considers further how national concerns and values were mediated by the image of maritime disaster. Through a consideration of Loutherbourg's work of the 1790s, it is argued that the aesthetic of the maritime, by being increasingly interleaved with the sublime, permeated a wide variety of imagery. But the naturalization of the nation in the sublimity of the sea represented it continually on the verge of disintegration. For a maritime nation enduring the crises of naval mutiny and continual threat of invasion by sea, this was peculiarly apposite.