Master Classes

A Contest of Two Genres: Graphic Satire and Anglo-American History Painting in the Long Eighteenth Century 

Mark Salber Phillips, Professor of History at Carleton University, Ottawa 
Cynthia Roman, Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Paintings at the Lewis Walpole Library 

May 15-18, 2017

Centuries-old hierarchies of the visual arts have placed history painting and graphic satire at opposite ends of the spectrum. “History painting” – high minded narrative art depicting exemplary heroes and events— carried enormous prestige, bringing fame to the individual artist as well as to the national school. In contrast, graphic satire was viewed as the lowest form of visual expression – more closely connected to political prints than to high-minded “histories.”

This residential seminar is intended to give doctoral students in a variety of disciplines the opportunity to consider issues and overlaps between these two narrative genres. Making use of visual material and textual resources from the collections of the Lewis Walpole Library’s at Yale, we will examine the often-embattled efforts of artists to construct new modes of visual representation as well as of narrative and history.  Through a multidisciplinary approach, we  will take note of a variety of key issues, including the theoretical context of Enlightenment intellectual history, the more focused discourse of art treatises, and direct encounters with the formal and aesthetic qualities of works of art. Among history painters we will give our attention to the works of William Hogarth, Gavin Hamilton, Benjamin West, and John Trumbull, while among the satirists we will focus on James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson, and Isaac and George Cruikshank.

The class will be taught as a combination of seminars, small group discussions, and visits to the Yale Center for British Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. Most of the teaching will take place in the Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington.

The program is open by application. Preference will be given to graduate students. Please click here to apply

Transportation: Yale Shuttle to and from New Haven 
Accommodation at the Library’s Timothy Root House may be available at no charge upon inquiry.