The Union & The Imagination : Images of Sir John Soane’s Museum in Britton’s first guidebook

Politis, Alexandra (2018) The Union & The Imagination : Images of Sir John Soane’s Museum in Britton’s first guidebook. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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John Britton’s The Union of Architecture, Sculpture, and Painting (1827) is the first guidebook to Sir John Soane’s Museum. Alongside the textual description, both the museum’s system of unique spaces and its collection are represented using images more frequently associated with the architectural design process than a guidebook. In the case of The Union, we have the material collection itself as a resource to consider in tandem with the guidebook. By comparing the guidebook to the museum, this work attempts to form an understanding of the layers of representation offered by Britton. Of particular interest is the meaning readers derive from these images and texts bound together in the specific arrangement in The Union, and what sort of demands these particular visual conventions make on the public eye.
At the crux of this thesis is the idea that perspective is closely tied to the concept of the imagination as argued by Robin Evans, as well as the concept of the invisible hinge borrowed from Alberto Pérez-Gòmez and Louise Pelletier. Evans’s distinction between the active imagination of the observer and dormant imaginative intelligence underpins this work, the latter explored in terms of memory, whereas the former will be explored as the translation of the building to the image, or a so-called “letter to the spectator”. The application of these more contemporary theories regarding architectural representation will offer a new reading of the various illustrations within Britton’s The Union, specifically those involving the combination of disparate conventions on a single picture plane, or on consecutive pages of the volume. This will culminate with the application of Gaston Bachelard’s phenomenology of the house; at the heart of Bachelard’s discussion is the experience of the inhabitant represented by the congregation of fragmentary images.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art History and World Art Studies (former - to 2014)
Depositing User: Jackie Webb
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2019 14:14
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2022 00:38


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