Character Mongers, or, Trading in People on Paper in the Long 18th Century
October 10, 2016 through January 27, 2017
Professor Rachel Brownstein, Professor Emerita, Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center, CUNY
and Dr. Leigh-Michil George, Instructor, Pasadena City College
In the course of the long eighteenth century—the Age of Caricature, and of The Rise of the Novel—the British reading public perfected the pastime of savoring characters. In a flourishing print culture, buying and selling likenesses of people and types became a business—and arguably an art. Real and imaginary characters—actual and fictional people—were put on paper by writers and graphic artists, and performed onstage and off. The exigencies of narrative, performance, and indeed of community conspired to inform views of other people—friend and foe, fat and thin—as tellingly, characters. “For what do we live,” Jane Austen’s Mr. Bennet would ask rhetorically in 1813, “but to make sport for our neighbours and laugh at them in our turn?”
This exhibit will feature images by William Hogarth, James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, Thomas Patch, Edward Francis Burney, Francis Grose, and G.M. Woodward, excerpts from novels by Jane Austen, Henry Fielding, and Laurence Sterne, and examples of graphic collections published by Matthew and Mary Darly and Thomas Tegg that marketed caricature as entertainment.
Please see our Programs page for information about events relating to the current exhibition.
James Gillray’s Hogarthian Progresses
April 6 through September 16, 2016
Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Paintings, the Lewis Walpole Library
Sequential narration in satiric prints is most famously associated with the “modern moral subjects” of William Hogarth (1697–1764): Harlot’s Progress (1732), A Rake’s Progress (1735), Marriage A-la-Mode (1745), andIndustry and Idleness (1747) among others. Less well-known is the broad spectrum of legacy “progresses” produced by subsequent generations drawing both on Hogarth’s narrative strategies and his iconic motifs. James Gillray (1756–1815), celebrated for his innovative single-plate satires, was also among the most accomplished printmakers to adopt Hogarthian sequential narration even as he transformed it according to his unique vision. This exhibition presents a number of Gillray’s Hogarthian progresses alongside some selected prints by Hogarth himself.
Bawdy Bodies: Satires of Unruly Women
September 24, 2015 through February 26, 2016
Co-curated by Hope Saska, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, University of Colorado Art Museum
and, Cynthia Romanm, Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Paintings, the Lewis Walpole Library with contributions by Jill Campbell (Department of English, Yale University)
Characterized by comically grotesque figures performing lewd and vulgar actions, bawdy humor provided a poignant vehicle to target a variety of political and social issues in eighteenth-century Britain. Bawdy Bodies: Satires of Unruly Women explores the deployment of this humorous but derisive strategy toward the regulation of female behavior. The exhibition presents satirical images of women from a range of subject categories including the royal family, aging members of fashionable society, disparaged mothers, political activists, gamblers, medical wonders, artists, performers, and intellectuals.
Prospects of Empire: Slavery and Ecology in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain
November 17, 2014 - May 1, 2015
Curated by Heather V. Vermeulen
Doctoral Candidate in African American Studies and American Studies, Yale University
Hazel V. Carby
Charles C. & Dorathea S. Dilley Professor of African American Studies and Professor of American Studies, Yale University
“Prospects of Empire: Slavery and Ecology in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain” explores the notion of empire’s “prospects”—its gaze upon bodies and landscapes, its speculations and desires, its endeavors to capitalize upon seized land and labor, as well as its failures to manage enslaved persons and unruly colonial ecologies. It reads latent anxieties in the policing of bodies and borders, both in the colonies and in the metropole, and examines the forces that empire mustered to curtail perceived threats to its regimes of power and knowledge. In addition to the focus on material from the long eighteenth century, the exhibition features a selection of four lithographs from Joscelyn Gardner’s series Creole Portraits III: “bringing down the flowers” (2009-11), a recent joint acquisition by the Yale Center for British Art and the Yale University Art Gallery. Gardner’s work mines the eighteenth-century Jamaica archive of white English immigrant, overseer, slaveowner, and pen-keeper Thomas Thistlewood, one of whose diaries is on loan from the Beinecke.
A Collection’s Progress: The Lewis Walpole Library, 2000-2014
Curated by Margaret K. Powell
W.S. Lewis Librarian and Executive Director, the Lewis Walpole Library
April 14 - October 3, 2014
When Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis left his library to Yale in 1979 Lewis thought of his gift not as a finished monument but as a living thing that required growth and change lest it become, in his words, “static and moldy.” The exhibition presents materials selected from the LWL’s collecting successes of the last fourteen years. Together the objects on display argue forcefully for the Library’s conquest of stasis and mold, and each speaks eloquently of another time, its politics and conflicts, its arts, fashions, and pastimes.
Emma Hamilton Dancing
Curated by John Cooper
Clare-Mellon Fellow in the History of Art, Yale University
October 16, 2013 - April 4, 2014
In 1794 the dancing and Attitudes, or expressive postures, performed by Emma Hamilton (1761?-1815) were rendered in twelve neoclassical images engraved by Thomas Piroli after drawings by Frederick Rehberg. After the death of her husband Sir William Hamilton in 1803 and that of her lover Admiral Lord Nelson in 1805, Emma Hamilton and her Attitudes were the subject of a second, ‘enlarged’ edition of parodies by James Gillray in 1807 in which her person was dramatically inflated. Emma Hamilton Dancing displays these two editions beside each other for the first time.
Emma Hamilton Dancing presents these Attitudes among images of the tarantella, the waltz, minuet, cotillion, and quadrille as well as prints of ballet dancing in the age of the ballet d’action and works on the theory and practice of dancing. In this context, the Attitudes are seen moving within the world of dancing in ballrooms and onstage in Europe during the era of revolution in America, France and the Kingdom of Naples.
“In the Midst of the Jovial Crowd”: Young James Boswell in London, 1762–1763
Curated by James Caudle, The Associate Editor, Yale Edition of the Private Papers of James Boswell
April - October 4, 2013
In autumn 1762, the ambitious, clever, jovial, and bumptious twenty-two-year-old Scotsman James Boswell traveled south from Edinburgh to London to seek his fortune in the capital. In his lively journal, he recorded his extraordinarily action-packed eight months there, and his efforts to become a permanent Londoner.
London in the Sixties (the 1760s) was a thrilling place, full of pleasures and dangers, wisdom and folly, high life and low life. This exhibition aspires to place visitors ‘in the midst of the jovial crowd’ in which young James Boswell felt so alive and happy. Prints by Hogarth and Rowlandson and others, and rare books and ballads, will bring to life the current events, everyday social life, and personalities celebrated in Boswell’s London Journal, unpublished until 1950, but now one of the best-loved works of eighteenth-century life-writing.
Dancing on a Sunny Plain: the Life of Annie Burr Auchincloss Lewis
Curated by Susan Odell Walker, Head of Public Services
October 29, 2012 – March 22, 2013
Celebrating their twentieth anniversary, Annie Burr Auchincloss Lewis (1902 – 1959) used Horace Walpole’s words to describe her partnership with Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis: “Life seems to me as if we were dancing on a sunny plain.” Annie Burr certainly shared her husband’s informed enthusiasm for Walpole, but her legacy extends beyond her well-known role as W.S. Lewis’s wife and partner. A gifted photographer and cataloger, she dedicated herself to family and friends, philanthropy and service. This exhibition, on view in Farmington through early 2013, explores her remarkable life through material selected from the Library’s rich archives.
The exhibition brochure was awarded The Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Rare Books and Manuscripts Section (RBMS) 2014 Katharine Kyes Leab and Daniel J. Leab “American Book Prices Current” Exhibition Award in the Division Three category.
“The God of Our Idolatry”: Garrick and Shakespeare
Curated by Margaret K. Powell, W. S. Lewis Librarian and Executive Director
Joseph R. Roach, Sterling Professor of Theater and English
March 12 – August 8, 2012
“The God of Our Idolatry”: Garrick and Shakespeare, showed off the extraordinary contribution the actor David Garrick, arguably the eighteenth century’s greatest man of the theatre, made to the age’s understanding of Shakespeare. Displaying printed texts, manuscript letters, drawings, prints, and portraits, the exhibition illustrated how, on stage and off, Garrick influenced the public’s view of Shakespeare, inspiring what Bernard Shaw later called “bardolatry.”
This exhibition was presented in connection with Shakespeare at Yale, a semester of events celebrating the Bard.
Sacred Satire: Lampooning Religious Belief in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Curated by Misty Anderson, Associate Professor of English, University of Tennessee
and Cynthia Roman, Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Paintings, the Lewis Walpole Library
September 22, 2011 - March 2, 2012
Religious beliefs and practices provided ample subject matter for the irreverent printmakers producing graphic satire in eighteenth-century Britain. While clerical satire is an ancient mode, eighteenth-century British artists seized on it with fresh vigor. Satirists appropriated centuries-old themes like corruption, hypocrisy, and greed, but updated them with contemporary concerns about the role of religion in the age of enlightenments. The visual rhetoric of these prints illustrates some of the ways in which eighteenth-century Britons were renegotiating their relationship to religious practice and belief.
The prints in this exhibition reflect a tension between a vision of religion as part of traditional life and the emergence of modern Christianity as a collection of new movements, practices, and ideas about belief. The eighteenth-century images on display preserve for us a moment in an ongoing conversation about the relationship of religion, representation, and modernity.
Illustrious Heads: Portrait Prints as History
November 22, 2010 - September 7, 2011
curated by Cynthia Roman
Engraved “heads,” or portrait prints, in close alliance with literary history and biography, carried substantial power as expressions of political and social preoccupations in eighteenth-century England. Published for both book illustration and independent issue, with and without text, portrait prints recorded and articulated a national past that was conceived as the “portraiture” of illustrious historical persons—a visual and literary representation of a sequence of notable individuals—rather than as a narrative representation of a series of significant political, diplomatic, or military events. Additionally, straight portraits—and increasingly caricatures—of contemporary persons played a vital role in negotiating topical political and social issues and documenting the surrounding discourse for posterity. The prints selected for this exhibition suggest the variety of portrait and caricature publications and present some of the diverse ways in which they were considered as repositories of history, biography, and anecdote. The exhibition also explores the engagement of eighteenth-century audiences with questions of sitter classification, authenticity, provenance, and scarcity.
Collection Highlights: Prints, Drawings, and Illustrated Books
May 3, 2010 - October 29, 2010
curated by Cynthia Roman
Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill
October 15, 2009, - January 3, 2010 Yale Center for British Art, New Haven
March 6 - July 4, 2010 Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Organized by The Lewis Walpole Library, the Yale Center for British Art, and the V&A
The exhibition catalogue was awarded the 2012 Philip Johnson Exhibition Catalogue Award by the Society of Architectural Historians
Works of Genius: Amateur Artists in Walpole’s Circle
September 28, 2009 - March 19, 2010
curated by Cynthia Roman
An influential writer, collector and historian of art, Horace Walpole (1717-1797) was also a great champion of art produced by persons who were ‘not artists’—perhaps best translated today as non-professional or amateur artists.
Works by amateur artists were a vital part of Walpole’s collection and were hung prominently and in great number at his famous house Strawberry Hill. This exhibition presented work on paper by Walpole and members of his closest circle, including Henry William Bunbury, John Chute, Richard Bentley, Lady Diana Beauclerk, Lady Hamilton, and Mary Berry.