In an age when engraving and photography were making artistic images available to a much wider public, artists were able to influence public attitudes more powerfully than ever before. This book examines works of art on military themes in relation to ruling-class ideologies about the army, war and the empire. The first part of the book is devoted to a chronological survey of battle painting, integrated with a study of contemporary military and political history. The chapters link the debate over the status and importance of battle painting to contemporary debates over the role of the army and its function at home and abroad. The second part discusses the intersection of ideologies about the army and military art, but is concerned with an examination of genre representations of soldiers. Another important theme which runs through the book is the relation of English to French military art. During the first eighty years of the period under review France was the cynosure of military artists, the school against which British critics measured their own, and the place from which innovations were imported and modified. In every generation after Waterloo battle painters visited France and often trained there. The book shows that military art, or the 'absence' of it, was one of the ways in which nationalist commentators articulated Britain's moral superiority. The final theme which underlies much of the book is the shifts which took place in the perception of heroes and hero-worship.
Still and moving images are crucial factors in contemporary political conflicts. They not only have representational, expressive or illustrative functions, but also augment and create significant events. Beyond altering states of mind, they affect bodies, and often life or death is at stake. Various forms of image operations are currently performed in the contexts of war, insurgency and activism. Photographs, videos, interactive simulations and other kinds of images steer drones to their targets, train soldiers, terrorise the public, celebrate protest icons, uncover injustices, or call for help. They are often parts of complex agential networks and move across different media and cultural environments. This book is a pioneering interdisciplinary study of the role and function of images in political life. Balancing theoretical reflections with in-depth case studies, it brings together renowned scholars and activists from different fields to offer a multifaceted critical perspective on a crucial aspect of contemporary visual culture.
‘Of all the phases of Art, there
is none so barren as the Military, and none in which English painters have
found themselves so peculiarly abroad.’ 1 William Michael Rossetti’s comment
summarises two related contemporary mythologies; that military art was a
‘barren’ area of activity and that British artists were
unwilling and unable to work on the subject. These two beliefs were
interwoven with the