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Paintings from Books

Art and Literature in Britain, 1760–1900

Richard D. Altick

List of Illustrations
Acknowledgments and Preface

Part One: The Pictures on the Walls


Chapter 1  The earliest literary pictures: Hogarth, the theater, and the novel.—Ut pictura poesis and the theory of history painting.—The expanding variety of literary subjects down to 1800.—Paintings from history, fancy pictures, early genre, landscape.
Chapter 2  Eighteenth-century book illustrations.—Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery. Macklin’s Poet’s Gallery.—Fuseli’s Milton Gallery.
Chapter 3  A period of lethargy (1800–1830): Ut pictura poesis reinterpreted; the disappearance of the first generation of literary artists.—The “fortunate fall” of history painting.—The rise of genre, with subjects from literature.—Wilkie and the debate over Crabbe’s realism.—Landscape and Scott.
Chapter 4  The growing market for literary paintings and the shift of patronage; pictures as domestic decoration.—Books of engravings; the Art Union.—Keepsake beauties, their antecedents (fancy pictures, theatrical portraits) and descendants, the Graphic beauties.
Chapter 5  The taste of the new collectors: moral content valued over execution; taboos (nudity, “disturbing” subjects, political and social comments).—The tyranny of conventional sources and subjects; “standard” authors and “beauties” anthologies; the influence of engravings on popular demand; examples of neglected subjects and authors.
Chapter 6  Subjects reflected from nonliterary art: magic, fairies, sleeping figures, dreams, amiable humorists; domestic themes.—Suffering women, femmes fatales, coquettes, the satire of women.—Horses and dogs; shipwrecks, captivity, escapes and rescues, letter scenes, partings, deaths, trials and supplications, “discoveries.”
Chapter 7  Subjects from art history generate interest in subjects from literary biography.—Paintings from the lives of Shakespeare, Milton, and later authors.
Chapter 8  Artists’ acquaintance with English literature.—Their adaptation of subjects from older art: the toilet of Venus, alchemist, Cymon and Iphigenia, Sigismunda, Endymion, etc.—The Westminster Palace frescoes.—The tension between artistic tradition and the “spirit” of the literary subject.
Chapter 9  Literary subjects and “modern instances.”—The use of literary quotations in exhibition catalogues: Turner’s “The Fallacies of Hope.”—Poems from pictures.
Chapter 10  The quality of art criticism, including journalistic wit.—The demise of ut pictura poesis.—The influence of preconceptions; artists’ fidelity to the literary source an occasion for praise; quibbles over departures from the text; invented scenes.
Chapter 11  “Theatricality” a leading issue in criticism of literary paintings; the forces joining and separating art and the stage.—Costuming and the movement toward historical authenticity.—Caricature, “coarseness,” “vulgarity,” the desire for “poetry.”—The death of Leslie and the controversy over “realism” in Pre-Raphaelite pictures from Keats.
Chapter 12  The decline of literary painting: improving quality of art criticism, the developing pejorative connotation of “literary.”—Conclusion: What happened when people “read” pictures?; various degrees of understanding; the relevance of literary painting to literary history, and its critical usefulness.

Part Two: Images from Shakespeare

The Comedies
The History Plays
The Tragedies
The Romances
The Poetry

Part Three: The Rest of the Gallery

The Middle Ages
The Elizabethan Era
The Seventeenth Century
The Eighteenth Century
The Romantic Era
The Victorian Era


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