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Colin Trodd

The first part of this article focuses on previously unstudied materials relating to the critical recuperation of William Blake in the period between c.1910 and 1930. It notes how commentators utilised ideas of citizenship and hospitality when they attempted to modernise Blake’s interests and concerns. It explains how these distinctive critical idioms were constructed, what they had in common and how they situated Blake in larger public arguments about the social significance of cultural creativity. The second part of the article traces the ramifications of this new way of thinking about Blake by noting his appearance in modernist and neo-romantic art criticism in the 1930s and 1940s.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
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The Manchester murals and the matter of history
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This book argues that Ford Madox Brown’s murals in the Great Hall, Manchester Town Hall (1878–93), were the most important public artworks of their day. Brown’s twelve designs on the history of Manchester, remarkable exercises in the making of historical vision, were semi-forgotten by academics until the 1980s, partly because of Brown’s unusually muscular conception of what History Painting should set out to achieve. This book explains the thinking behind the programme and indicates how each mural contributes to a radical vision of social and cultural life. It documents how Brown’s pictorial innovations relate to Thomas Carlyle’s model of history and it indicates how the Manchester murals questioned the verities of British liberalism.

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Colin Trodd

The introduction responds to the standard view that the Manchester murals are examples of liberalism by outlining Brown’s attitude to the material conditions of the Victorian art world. It goes on to argue that Brown saw the replication of artworks as a way of exercising some control over the production, distribution and consumption of his productions. To think in these terms was to define independence by recourse to the idea of the master craftsman, the figure who set out to orchestrate the development and supply of artefacts. This sentiment – where the artist must struggle to assert authority over the things he or she wants to produce, to ascribe value for them – was an important aspect of Brown’s artistic character, since it encouraged him to believe that he could contest cultural liberalism by demonstrating the rights of expressive labour over the power of capital.

in Ford Madox Brown
Colin Trodd

Chapter 1 addresses the critical and conceptual conditions in which Brown developed the Manchester murals, paying specific attention to how these works responded to debates about social experience and collective life. It explains how Brown made use of Carlyle’s theory of historical representation when identifying painting with the transmission of living human expression, and it goes on to explore why he contested the model of social life and nationhood associated with academic History Painting.

in Ford Madox Brown
Colin Trodd

Chapter 1 addresses the critical and conceptual conditions in which Brown developed the Manchester murals, paying specific attention to how these works responded to debates about social experience and collective life. It explains how Brown made use of Carlyle’s theory of historical representation when identifying painting with the transmission of living human expression, and it goes on to explore why he contested the model of social life and nationhood associated with academic History Painting.

in Ford Madox Brown
Colin Trodd

Chapter 2 begins with a lengthy consideration of some of the external reasons for the development of Brown’s ideas about painting. It provides a detailed picture of Brown’s understanding of, and engagement with, Victorian society. It pays close attention to his connections with national culture and popular radicalism, and considers his affinities with the Foggo brothers, W. J. Linton, and other overlooked radical artists from the 1830s and 1840s. It examines Brown’s Diary, which is filled with important discussions of art, politics and society. It goes on to consider the twists, turns and leaps of his career. The concluding part of the chapter shows how melodrama provides a meaningful critical context for explaining how Brown attempted to reconfigure the social activist aesthetic of the 1830s and 1840s.

in Ford Madox Brown
Colin Trodd

The first part of this chapter looks at different critical models of Manchester in Victorian culture and politics. It pays particular attention to the writings of Thomas Carlyle, who shaped Brown’s interest in the outsiders of official history. The second part of the chapter, which provides a set of detailed readings of the first four murals in the scheme, argues that Brown’s designs are united by an ambition to probe the critical spaces and meanings of academic History Painting.

in Ford Madox Brown
Colin Trodd

The first part of this chapter looks at different critical models of Manchester in Victorian culture and politics. It pays particular attention to the writings of Thomas Carlyle, who shaped Brown’s interest in the outsiders of official history. The second part of the chapter, which provides a set of detailed readings of the first four murals in the scheme, argues that Brown’s designs are united by an ambition to probe the critical spaces and meanings of academic History Painting.

in Ford Madox Brown
Colin Trodd

This chapter argues that the middle set of the Manchester murals indicate that Brown adopted a Carlylean mentality when emphasising the scale and intimacy of historical events. It seeks to shed light on the ways in which Brown understood social development and explores the critical languages he employed when tackling the nature of public life. The bulk of the chapter, however, focuses on how Brown associated the imagination with politics when he represented John Wycliffe and Humphrey Chetham, both of whom were central to his vision of national culture.

in Ford Madox Brown
Colin Trodd

Among the many issues addressed in the first section of this chapter is how the murals provide a vision of the distinctive pathology of British historical life, and the extent to which this attitude is derived from Romantic discourse, which equated modernity with the victory of a culture of possessive individualism over the tradition of community life. The second section of the chapter considers how the model of human wealth outlined by the Romantics, and then continued by Morris and other members of the Arts and Crafts Movement, relates to Brown’s murals, which give attention to human relationships, social trust and the transformation of inner life.

in Ford Madox Brown