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 →
The first edition of Bannerman’s Tales of Superstition and Chivalry (1802) contained an erotic engraving of a naked Venus figure, which was declared ‘offensive to decency’ by Scottish audiences in the poet’s native Edinburgh. Garner’s account investigates the controversy surrounding the engraving and the puzzling disparity between it and the ballad it illustrated: the Arthurian-themed ‘Prophecy of Merlin’. Using evidence from Bannerman’s correspondence with noted Scottish male publishers and antiquarians, this essay argues that decision to include the dangerous engraving was symptomatic of current anxieties surrounding a female-authored text which threatened to encroach on antiquarian and Arthurian enquiry. Continue reading →
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