TATE BRITAIN    Book Number: 85697    Product format: Paperback

William Blake remarked provocatively, "Empire follows Art and not vice versa as Englishmen suppose." If the aesthetic of the British Empire was not always celebratory, this was partly due to an abiding sense of embarrassment or distaste with which many Britons regarded their overseas affairs. This has resulted in objects being hidden away in storerooms and the subject of Empire until this exhibition at the Tate not addressed directly. Many British itinerant artists were employed in the colonies, thereby helping to forge the national narratives of disparate cultures. A number were better known overseas than they were in Britain like London-born Augustus Earle (1793-1838), Robert Dowling (1827-1886), Agostino Brunias (1730-1796) and Thomas Baines (1820-1875) in South Africa and Australia. Here we can see Stubbs's Australian Dingo on page 51, painted in London in 1772 from a traveller's description. The collection is arranged in the following chapters: Mapping and Marking, Trophies of Empire, Imperial Heroics, Power Dressing, Face to Face and Out of Empire written by such art experts as David Blayney Brown and Carol Jacobi. Here are portraits such as Tissot's Frederick Burnaby 1870, the watercolour map by John Thomas 1593, The Siege of Enniskillen Castle, Millais's The North-West Passage, depicting a weather-beaten old mariner staring resolutely out at the viewer with both fists clenched. Seated on the floor by his side is a young woman, presumably his daughter, reading from a log book. There is a prominently positioned map of the Canadian Arctic, a telescope and log books, the Union and white ensign flags and a portrait of Nelson, all deeply significant. There is a Cable & Wireless Great Circle Map 1946, portraits, tobacco pipes, Paton's In Memoriam showing the horrors enacted on both sides of the massacre of women and children in the Bibighar or House of Ladies and Allan Stewart's To the Memory of Brave Men showing the annihilation of a small band of British soldiers of the BSA by Matabele warriors. A bare legged Captain Thomas Lee in 1594 depicts a man who saw active service during the 'plantations' or mass colonisation of Ireland after the confiscation of land by the English Crown with his inlaid pistol and Spanish-type helmet, fine shirt with intricately embroidered lacework. Mohawk warriors, a portrait of Pocahontas aged 21 in Elizabethan finery and the three princesses of Mysore 1806 are others of our favourites. 256 page large softback, 9½" x 11½". An extraordinary breadth of objects and artworks. Colour.
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ISBN 9781849763592
Browse these categories as well: Art & Architecture, History, Travel & Places

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