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Title: William Shiels, R.S.A. (1783-1857) : identity, scientific enquiry, and the development of art institutions in Britain and North America
Author: Salvesen Murrell, Fiona Vivien
ISNI:       0000 0004 2745 9188
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis critically investigates and analyses the development of art institutions and museums in the United States of America and Britain viewed through the career of William Shiels, R.S.A. (1783-1857). The first Chapter establishes Shiels’ early career and background in Edinburgh and London. Chapter Two examines the causes that precipitated Shiels to immigrate to New York in 1817, and the American artists he knew in London, as well as discussing the state of the arts in the USA. Shiels’ involvement in the founding and running of the South Carolina Academy of Fine Arts in Charleston is examined in detail in Chapter Three, and Chapter Four details his activities in relation to the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. The thesis establishes how Shiels as a founder, director, exhibition organiser, and agent helped create these two art academies. Importantly, both were artist-led organisations which challenged the authority of the patrician-led society. Thus the first two exhibitions of the South Carolina Academy are investigated in detail, as are the first five exhibitions in Edinburgh, to provide evidence of Shiels’ and his colleagues’ achievements. The artistic networks with which Shiels regularly communicated with in London, Norwich, and Newcastle are also examined in relation to supporting the fledgling Scottish Academy. The last chapter focuses upon the University of Edinburgh’s Museum of Agriculture, founded by Professor David Low in 1832. For the latter Shiels painted over one hundred scientifically accurate large scale portraits of livestock. The influences upon both Shiels and Low are examined in the creation of both the portraits and the Museum. This commission is studied in detail and compared both with earlier precedents, and a competitive project led by the Highland and Agricultural Society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Aberdeen ; College of Arts and Social Sciences ; Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available