Circum-Atlantic Visual Culture, c. 1770-1830 - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Circum-Atlantic Visual Culture, c. 1770-1830

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MA Special Option

Circum-Atlantic Visual Culture, c. 1770-1830


Mr and Mrs Andrews Without Their Heads, 1998, Yinka Shonibare, MBE, Private Collection, London.

Dr Esther Chadwick

This MA Special Option considers an oceanic space – the Atlantic – and the images that were produced within it during the long eighteenth century. Three historical moments punctuate the course: the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783); the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804); and the British Emancipation Act (1833). We will concentrate on three areas in particular: artworks and artists that crossed the Atlantic, particularly between North America, Britain, and the Caribbean; art made in mainland Britain that responded to Atlantic developments; and art produced in the Caribbean.

What role did visual images, material objects, and cultural practices play in constituting or resisting imperial power? How do notions of ‘British’ art change when viewed in Atlantic perspective? And what is the significance of this history for debates about decolonising cultural institutions in the twenty-first century?

Courtauld Course Lecturer

About the lecturer

Esther Chadwick is a specialist in eighteenth-century British art, with a focus on printmaking. She studied Art History at the University of Cambridge and completed her doctorate at Yale University in 2016. She has held fellowships at the Paul Mellon Centre in London, the Huntington Library, California, the Lewis Walpole Library, Connecticut, and in 2013-2016 was Paul Mellon Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, Washington D.C. Before joining the Courtauld, she was a curator in the Department of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum.

Esther’s research addresses questions of mediation, transmission and translation of visual information, the materiality of printed images, the visual culture of transatlantic slavery and revolution, and the construction of race. She is interested in the global contexts of British art. In 2014, she co-curated Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain at the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven. At the British Museum in 2018, she curated A revolutionary legacy: Haiti and Toussaint Louverture. Esther is currently working on a book that examines the formative role of printmaking in the work of British artists, entitled The Radical Print: Art and Politics in Late Eighteenth-Century Britain.

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