This paper resituates Samuel Rogers’s influential work Italy within the wider context of Britain’s post-Waterloo visual–verbal culture. Rogers’s illustrated multi-generic travel book made the Italian peninsula accessible to its upwardly mobile middle-class audience through its miscellaneous nature, its poems, tales, travelogues, treatment of art, antiquarian asides and translation of key Italian authors. It was one of the nineteenth century’s best-selling texts, but it did not start out that way. Indeed, it would take Rogers over a decade in order to produce a profitable object. This article examines this process and the ways in which Rogers responded to key developments in the commercial print market, especially the growing popularity for keepsakes and annuals, in order to register the publishing market’s dependency on word-image constellations, Britain’s changing relationship with Italy, and, ultimately, the growing purchasing power of a middle-class, female audience. Continue reading →
Since his rise to fame in the early nineteenth century, Byron and his work have been significant subjects for visual art, from book illustration to oil painting. This essay explores Byronic art across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, taking as a case study the treatment of his late narrative poem, Don Juan. Byron’s wide-ranging appeal was a result of both the popularity of his poetry and the public fascination with his life, but it was also determined by the multiple, fluid qualities of his work which facilitated a huge variety of readings across the centuries. Here, the visual implications of these ways of reading are considered, and the essay argues that pictorial Byronism played an important role in presenting evolving perceptions of the broader Romantic movement. Continue reading →
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