Art, Architecture and Visual Culture

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J.W.M. Hichberger

This chapter shows that the Prince Regent's desire to appropriate the Peninsular, Trafalgar and Waterloo victories, resulted in patronage for a genre of battle painting not legitimised by the tenets of academic theory. The Prince Regent's decision to display Lawrence's portraits rather than his battle paintings for his Waterloo gallery has been noted. One High Art form of military painting which had flourished in England in the late eighteenth century was the exemplum virtutis painting such as Benjamin West's Death of General Wolfe or John Singleton Copely's Death of Major Peirson. The British Institution (BI) for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom, had been formed in May 1805 by important members of the Royal Academy and members of the aristocracy who were patrons and amateurs of art. The aristocratic connoisseurs of the BI showed themselves out of sympathy with the majority of urban middle-class art consumers.

in Images of the army

The theme of anglicisation is a familiar one throughout late eighteenth and early nineteenth century British imperial history. Anglicisation was revived after the second Anglo-Boer War, motivated this time by the British government's attempt to foster white racial harmony and create a new rural order in South Africa. The politicisation of South African soldier settlement was not, however, centred on the conflict between the dominion government and veterans' organisations for participation in and control of post-war policy. Nationalist politicians saw the development of irrigation schemes as the country's salvation and the solution to the poor white problem. Throughout 1917 and 1918 the South African government remained resolute in its determination not to introduce special soldier settlement projects, state-aided migration programmes or participate in an imperial free passage scheme. The founding in 1920 of the 1820 Association marked a new chapter in British immigration to South Africa.

in Unfit for heroes
The failure of the Anzac legend

Land settlement had always been an integral part of the Australian experience and a necessary feature of state politics. During World War I a new legend and tradition emerged which not only paralleled the agrarian myth and the yeoman ideal but shared some of their salient features. The 'Anzac' legend or 'digger' tradition was created during the unsuccessful Gallipoli campaign. The cross-fertilisation of the outback, yeoman and Anzac traditions had important political implications during the post-war era. The most patriotic and 'British' of the dominions, New Zealand was the first dominion to initiate and enact soldier settlement legislation in October 1915. The immigration agreement of 1920 was a victory for Hughes in his battle with the states over control of immigration policy. Land settlement was a prominent feature of party politics in New Zealand, and after World War I was seen as an indispensable component of its reconstruction strategy.

in Unfit for heroes
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Foredoomed to failure?

In a survey of the British government's migration policy conducted in 1930, the Overseas Settlement Department concluded that assisted migration since World War I had been 'fostered largely for social and political reasons. Britain's free passage scheme for ex-service personnel provides another illustration of the gulf between imperial expectations and actual results. The underlying problem, was the neo-mercantilist rationale behind imperial soldier settlement. Economic factors aside, the failure to establish a landed imperial yeomanry was in part attributable to the growth of a 'sturdy' dominion nationalism. The depression of 1929-33 effectively ended assisted migration to the dominions. Throughout the 1930s and indeed during World War II, the political issues raised by imperial migration, particularly vis-a-vis the white dominions, remained central to British policy making. South Africa was a unique case because of the political sensitivity of both the immigration and land settlement issues.

in Unfit for heroes
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J.W.M. Hichberger

The Crimean war was a watershed in civil-military relations. With the outbreak of the Crimean war Thomas Jones Barker began to produce more military subjects, perhaps hoping, as did Henry Selous, that the war would result in patronage for military pictures. At the outbreak of the war the astute Ernest Gambart commissioned Edward Armitage to go to the Crimea and produce two oil paintings which could be engraved and mass-produced. Armitage's two battle paintings, Inkermann and Balaclava, were exhibited in Gambart's Pall Mall Gallery in 1856, just after the close of hostilities. They formed part of a 'Crimean exhibition' designed to appeal to a public patriotically celebrating the peace and congratulating themselves on victory. Large-scale battle painting did enjoy a revival in the Crimean period, though outside the Academic or state systems.

in Images of the army
J.W.M. Hichberger

This chapter considers the meeting point between the civilian and military worlds. An examination of the representation of the military and civilians in Academy painting in the nineteenth century reveals a marked difference between works produced either side of the dividing era 1854-1865. In tune with the increasingly pervasive bourgeois ideology, domestic representations of the soldier occupied a higher percentage of images in the post-Crimean era. Representations of soldiers and women at the Royal Academy (RA) in the post-Crimean era could not therefore allow any ambiguity surrounding the relation of a soldier to a woman for fear of being thought to allude to prostitution. Military structures and indeed policy were dedicated to the preservation of a rootless, unmarried private soldier. In the pre-Crimean Army it was virtually impossible for a soldier to retain any links with home or community.

in Images of the army
J.W.M. Hichberger

The period from 1874, the year of the Ashanti expedition, until 1914 saw a dramatic increase in the number of battle paintings displayed at public exhibitions. Many commentators at the time reflecting on the upsurge in the popularity of the genre, attributed it to the influence of one artist, Elizabeth Thompson, Lady Butler. The few nonfeminist authors who have examined Butler's career have sought confirmation of crude jingoism in bourgeois ideology in High Victorian England. Elizabeth Butler regarded her own work as an antidote to the 'disease of the 'Aesthetes' whose 'sometimes unwholesome productions' she saw at the Grosvenor Gallery. The absence of violence in her paintings was a deliberate strategy, designed to accommodate the conflicting ideologies of anti-imperialism and pacificm as well as patriotism and militarism. Some strands of anti-imperialist thought were linked with pacifism and anti-militarism.

in Images of the army

The outbreak of First World War effectively ended imperial migration for the next five years. Post-war imperial migration was not regarded as a major issue by the imperial government until the summer of 1916, but thereafter its close association with post-war reconstruction made it an increasingly important matter. Moreover, the failure of the British government to launch a successful domestic colonisation scheme had a direct bearing on the implementation of the empire migration project. The period between 1919 and 1922 proved to be a crucial one for constructive imperialists throughout the empire. The task of assisting ex-servicemen was a completely separate matter, according to Leo Amery when he first took office in January. Amery's immediate aim was to frame a new emigration bill which would enhance imperial unity, contribute to the economic well being of the empire and offset the fiasco of Long's ill-conceived 1918 Emigration Bill.

in Unfit for heroes
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J.W.M. Hichberger
in Images of the army
J.W.M. Hichberger

The large number of battle paintings exhibited at the Royal Academy during the period 1874-1914 makes it impossible to account here for the genesis of more than a few. This chapter examines the paintings inspired by the Zulu war of 1879-1880. The Zulu war was regarded as the most important of the colonial wars up to the Sudan campaign in 1883-1884. Frederick Villiers exhibited two battle paintings at the Royal Academy, in 1882 and 1883, so far as is known his only excursions into academic art, both now lost. The first was based on the Afghan war of 1878-1880, which he had covered for The Graphic. The second seems, however, to have been a battle scene, Fighting Arabi with his own Weapons: Tel-el-Kebir. Villiers became a well known personality in the late Victorian newspaper industry. Late Victorian battle painters manipulated a number of stock characters.

in Images of the army