Animal and sporting painting in Britain, 1760-c.1850: its artistic practices, patronage and public display

Wright, Alison (2018) Animal and sporting painting in Britain, 1760-c.1850: its artistic practices, patronage and public display. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Animal and sporting pictures were a major part of British art in the late eighteenth to the early nineteenth centuries, yet, aside from the work of key figures such as George Stubbs (1724-1806), scholarship has tended to dismiss them as a minor and marginal artform. This thesis re-embeds this neglected genre in British art history through a broad-ranging re-examination of how it operated and was experienced in a transformative period for art, and argues for a new understanding of animal and sporting painting as constituted by a striking variety of practitioners, practices, sites and subjects. In a period of radical changes to animal breeding, management and sport, it further explores how these crucial contexts both promoted animals as subjects for artists, and at the same time challenged the status of animals as ‘art’.

The thesis is divided into three chapters which each address a fundamental aspect of artistic practice: the artist, the exhibition and the collection. In Chapter 1, an extensive population survey critiques the idea of the ‘animal painter’ as marginal, showing that a broad range of artists worked on sporting and animal subjects in ways closely integrated with the wider art world. Chapter 2 looks at sporting and animal art in London’s expanding exhibition culture, establishing its considerable presence, variety and appeal in a particularly fertile period from the 1790s to the 1820s, and exploring the impact of animal pictures as public art. Chapter 3 examines the collections of the sportsman Colonel Thornton and of Robert Vernon, John Sheepshanks and Jacob Bell, three collectors who made substantial gifts to the national collection, showing how each promoted the idea of animal and sporting pictures as artworks that spoke to broader audiences than their immediate owners – with a variable success that informs our troubled present-day inheritance of the genre.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art History and World Art Studies (former - to 2014)
Depositing User: Users 9280 not found.
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2019 11:22
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2022 01:38


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