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Title: A cultural geography of Victorian art collecting : identity, acquisition and display
Author: Biltcliffe, Phillippa
ISNI:       0000 0001 3464 2798
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 2007
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Grounded within cultural geography, this thesis focuses on the relationships between art collection and the fashioning of elite identities in the second-half of the nineteenth century. Through two detailed case studies of wealthy collectors, it investigates the ways in which the consumption of art served as a cultural medium through which collectors created distinct identities for themselves, so that collections may be seen not simply as mirrors reflecting Victorian culture, but as constitutive of that culture. Focusing on the geographical aspects of the history of art collecting, the study considers how subjectivities were crafted through negotiation of a series of sites and spaces, collecting networks and journeys. This focus on the spatiality of collections and of collecting identities enriches existing notions of class, gentility and connoisseurship. The empirical core of the thesis is a study of the collections amassed by two wealthy Victorians: Ferdinand Rothschild (1839-1898), an aristocratic and cosmopolitan connoisseur, who specialised particularly in Renaissance and eighteenth-century art objects, and Thomas Holloway (1800-1883), a millionaire businessman and philanthropist known especially for his collection of contemporary Victorian paintings. Through a close examination of the activities and collections of these two very different figures, the thesis explores how their identities and reputations were fashioned through their collections. Part 1 of the thesis provides an account of recent work on the cultures of collecting and the fashioning of class identities, with particular reference to Victorian Britain (Chapter 2). Part 2 considers the relationships between collecting, taste and the fashioning of identities, with reference to Holloway and Rothschild (Chapters 3 and 4). Part 3 examines the different means through which objects were acquired; focusing especially on the contrasting sites of acquisition, including the auction house, the private sale, the art dealer and foreign travel (Chapter 5 and 6). Part 4 focuses on display, considering how art objects were made meaningful through their location in particular places, from the public gallery to the private smoking rooms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available