Tag Archives: Ford Madox Brown

University of Plymouth Conference, The ‘Arts’ in History 2012

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Theme: How the ‘arts’, and the way they have been studied over time, offers an insight to societies of the past and present.

Talk Time: 20 Minutes

Title: Canine Contexts: Understanding the Role of the Dog in British Victorian art.

Location: Plymouth University, Roland Levinsky Building.

Date: 15th June

Abstract: Once one asserts the notion that art reflects the time within which it was made, it can be proposed that every element within visual culture comes with its own notable history; influenced by the society and culture within which it was produced.

This paper aims to explore one seemingly unassuming, element within Victorian visual culture; that of the dog.

Using the painting Work (1852-65) by Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893) as a case study, this paper will demonstrate the significance that social and cultural contexts played within the placing of the dog in both fine art works and other visual mediums of the Victorian era. Looking at a multitude of issues; from pet keeping and dog shows to dog thieves and ‘mad dogs’; each dog within Work shall be explored and elaborated upon within this paper, including the widely unmentioned or unnoticed ‘fifth dog’ in the artwork.

Through this, visual representations of dogs within Victorian visual culture shall be argued as adding a canine context to artworks of the time; reflecting wider issues such as those of class, human identity and the crossing of public and domestic spheres, and contributing to a more profound understanding of the artworks they occupy.

The eventual realisation that viewers should gain by the end of the talk is that not only are representations of dogs within Victorian art significant, but they are also dependant on an in-depth understanding of the historical, social and cultural contexts within which they were produced.

Force of Habit in Punch, or the London Charivari , London, England, October 22, 1864, New Readerships, p. 168.

Force of Habit in Punch, or the London Charivari , London, England, October 22, 1864, New Readerships, p. 168.

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My First Publication

My first publication–a article in The Arts and Popular Culture in History–has recently been published.

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The article is a polished version of my talk given at a conference of the same name and is titled ‘Canine Contexts: The Potential of Dogs in British Victorian Art’.

Adapted from the 20 minute talk, the article is mainly a teaser for the potential that reading and understanding the context of dogs in British Victorian art can provide. Working from this base the article provides a case study of Ford Madox Brown’s painting Work, looking at the dogs in the painting and providing previously unasserted insights into the fifth dog in the artwork.

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The book also includes many other interesting fields of research; including a look a typography and its significance in pamphlet literature during the late-sixteenth century, an interesting article on the role of Tommy Atkins, and an article looking at the Berlin Bronzes in the context of newspapers and journals of the nineteenth-century.

If you are interested in my article, or any of the others, then you can purchase the book here.

All the best!

Amy Robson.