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Title: The manifestation of national identities in late eighteenth-century Scottish art, c.1750-1800
Author: Graham, Deborah Jane
ISNI:       0000 0001 3509 2441
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2000
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This dissertation seeks to explore how national identities were manifest in eighteenth-century Scottish art. Understanding national identity to be a cultural and political phenomena, it considers symbols of national identity and examines in aesthetic and economic terms how the fine arts were both implicated in, and capable of expressing, the significant changes in national identity apparent in Scotland following the ’Forty-Five. The first chapter concerns itself with the issue of art and identity in Scotland between cl750 and 1800, and surveys the relevant literature, before introducing other significant issues pertinent to this research: the Enlightenment and Improvement. Chapter two recognises that previous studies of Highland portraits have examined them from an ‘external’ perspective. It investigates the implications of this for the viewer, and proceeds to analyse them from an ‘internal’ perspective intended to reveal the sitters’ motivations, to conclude that they are aristocratic images of authority, and its loss. The construction of the myth of the Highlands is thus expounded visually. If these symbols offer little evidence for an identity in flux, it is questionable whether individuals’ portraits can express national identity. Yet such a claim, it will be argued in chapter three, can be made through the desire to collect and order portraits by nation, and its relation to the Enlightenment discourse of the role of the individual in forming civil society. In this context, in chapter four, the aesthetic qualities of Allan Ramsay’s 1753-4 portraits will be argued as having been of particular significance to their Scottish sitters, being formed by Ramsay’s participation in Enlightenment Edinburgh society. Evidence for this position will be adduced through his paintings and writings, though the influence of physical setting is also considered. Finally, in chapter five, a study of Edinburgh art markets in comparison with those of English provincial cities addresses the question of whether Scotland was a nation, or province of England. The synthesis of existing literature and an original survey of art-related newspaper advertising reveals the Edinburgh market to be distinctive, though increasingly reliant upon London. The co-existence of local and national culture is found to be an important dialectic in the market, just as the dialectic between Scottish and British culture was found to be so generally in this dissertation. In conclusion, chapter six argues that while Scottish art must be considered as part of the history of British art, the desire amongst Scots to be part of a British nation was a significant force in shaping Scottish visual culture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Scottish Office ; University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: N Visual arts (General)