16th September, 2021 / 11:00 - 12:00
26th October, 2015
‘Bohemians and Gentlemen. The representation of artists in British society 1850-1950’
Introduction by GREY GOWRIE, poet, formerly Minister of Arts, Chairman of Sotheby’s, Provost of the Royal College of Art, Chairman of the Arts Council
A drinks reception will follow.
Professorial Platform Lecture Abstract
How do we understand the artist; how do we imagine he or she lives? Is our view formed by visiting exhibitions or artists’ studios, reading criticism, biography or novels, looking at self-portraits and photographs, watching films? Do we feel we know Vermeer through looking at his paintings, reading a catalogue or Tracy Chevalier’s historic novel or watching Colin Firth and Scarlet Johansson star in Girl with a Pearl Earring? In this lecture – and my proposed book – I shall be examining the multi-faceted construction of the artistic identity, the imagined artist, and how it changed across an important period in British art history. I shall be looking at the public reception and perception of the artist and the artist’s own performance for his or her public, a performance that could be influenced or even controlled by the dealer. I shall trace the relationship, sometimes the battle, between two supposedly oppositional images of the artist, the bohemian and the gentleman. And the impact on these masculine concepts of the increasing presence of the female artist.