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Title: The critical reception of the art of J.A.M. Whistler in England
Author: Walsh, Victoria A. W.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3557 9137
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 1995
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The Whistler v Ruskin trial of 1878 has primarily been recorded as a turning point in the history of modern art. Contrary to this reading, this thesis reveals that the trial of 1878 represented a manifestation of debates in art and criticism which had evolved during the preceding two decades. Furthermore, in identifying the trial not only as a conflict between two oppositional views of the value and meaning of art, but also between two conceptions of the role of the critic and the function of art criticism, this thesis makes evident the extent to which Whistler's art was engaged in a re-definition of the practices of both art and criticism. Furthermore, whilst it is generally believed that Whistler's art received a hostile reception in England during the 1860s and 1870s, this thesis reveals, through its extensive analysis of reviews and articles in newspapers, periodicals and specialist art journals such as the Fine Arts Quarterly Review and the Portfolio, that there was in fact a substantial body of support and interest in the artist's work. In considering the foundations of such sympathy for the artist's work, the pervasive influence of German idealist thought (particularly that of Kant, Schelling and Schiller), and interpreted through both English and French Romantic theory (as presented in the writings of Coleridge, Hazlitt, Gautier and Baudelaire), is identified in the writing of critics such as Philip Gilbert Hamerton, William Michael Rossetti, Algernon Swinburne and Walter Pater. Section I considers the condition of writing on art in England during the 1860s and 1870s and the emergence of Aesthetic criticism in this period. Section II considers in detail the issues and debates which surrounded Whistler's use of colour, the 'unfinished' appearance of his paintings, his application of musical titles to his work, and lastly, the shifting perception of his works as 'decorative' or 'fine' art.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature