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    McCue, Maureen Clare (2011) British Romanticism and Italian Renaissance art. PhD thesis. http://theses.gla.ac.uk/2680/ Copyright and moral rights for this thesis are retained by the author A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge This thesis cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the Author The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the Author When referring to this work, full bibliographic details including the author, title, awarding institution and date of the thesis must be given.

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  • British Romanticism and Italian Renaissance Art

    Maureen Clare McCue, B.A., M.Phil.

    Department of English Literature School of Critical Studies

    University of Glasgow

    Submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

    February 2011

    Copyright: Maureen Clare McCue, February 2011

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  • Table of Contents

    Abstract.................................................................................................................................. 3

    Acknowledgements................................................................................................................ 4

    Author’s Declaration.............................................................................................................. 5

    List of Figures........................................................................................................................ 6

    Note on Texts Used................................................................................................................ 7

    Introduction............................................................................................................................ 8

    Chapter One: ‘To engraft Italian art on English nature’.......................................................35

    Chapter Two: Connoisseurship.............................................................................................71

    Chapter Three: Making Literature......................................................................................101

    Chapter Four: Samuel Rogers’s Italy................................................................................. 143

    Conclusion..........................................................................................................................182

    Bibliography.......................................................................................................................189

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  • Abstract

    This study examines British Romantic responses to Italian Renaissance art and argues that

    Italian art was a key force in shaping Romantic-period culture and aesthetic thought. Italian

    Renaissance art, which was at once familiar and unknown, provided an avenue through

    which Romantic writers could explore a wide range of issues. Napoleon’s looting of Italy

    made this art central to contemporary politics, but it also provided the British with their

    first real chance to own Italian Old Master art. The period’s interest in biography and

    genius led to the development of an aesthetic vocabulary that might be applied equally to

    literature and visual art. Chapter One discusses the place of Italian art in Post-Waterloo

    Britain and how the influx of Old Master art impacted on Britain’s exhibition and print

    culture. While Italian art was appropriated as a symbol of British national prestige,

    Catholic iconography could be difficult to reconcile with Protestant taste. Furthermore, Old

    Master art challenged both eighteenth-century aesthetic philosophy and the Royal

    Academy’s standing, while simultaneously creating opportunities for new viewers and new

    patrons to participate in the cultural discourse. Chapter Two builds on these ideas by

    exploring the idea of connoisseurship in the period. As art became increasingly

    democratized, a cacophony of voices competed to claim aesthetic authority. While the

    chapter examines a range of competing discourses, it culminates in a discussion of what I

    have termed the ‘Poetic Connoisseur’. Through a discussion of the work of Lord Byron,

    Percy Shelley and William Hazlitt, I argue that Romantic writers created an exclusive

    aristocracy of taste which demanded that the viewer be able to read the ‘poetry of

    painting’. Chapter Three focuses on the ways in which Romantic writers used art to

    produce literature rather than criticism. In this chapter, I argue that writers such as Byron,

    Shelley, Lady Morgan, Anna Jameson and Madame de Staël, created an imaginative

    vocabulary which lent itself equally to literature and visual art. Chapter Four uses Samuel

    Rogers’s Italy as a case study. It traces how the themes discussed in the previous chapters

    shaped the production of one of the nineteenth century’s most popular illustrated books,

    how British art began to appropriate Italian subjects and how deeply intertwined visual and

    literary culture were in the period. Finally, this discussion of Italy demonstrates how

    Romantic values were passed to a Victorian readership. Through an appreciation of how

    the Romantics understood Italian Renaissance art we can better understand their

    experience and understanding of Italy, British and European visual culture and the

    Imagination.

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  • Acknowledgements

    Arriving in Scotland with only a rucksack and some books, I started an emotional and intellectual journey which has taken me to unexpected places. Though I often found myself in a ‘selva oscura’, there was always someone there to encourage me to find my way. I would like to thank Professor Nigel Leask for his guidance, patience and for being such a good example of collegiate generosity. I would also like to thank Evelyn, Flora and Isabel Leask for easing my homesickness.

    I must express my heartfelt gratitude to Professor Richard Cronin, who has been a generous reader of my work from the start and who graciously agreed to supervise the final stages of my doctoral work, when Nigel became Head of the new School of Critical Studies. In six months I have learnt more about writing and the value of hard focus than I would have thought possible. I feel blessed to have such a mentor.

    Many thanks also to Dorothy McMillan, my MPhil. supervisor, who encouraged me to keep going and also to laugh at myself; and to Professor Alison Yarrington of the Department of Art History for involving me in In Media Res. Thank you to Pat, Anna and Michelle, who keep the department running smoothly and have helped me on numerous occasions. Thank you to the staff at the University of Glasgow’s Library and to the Graduate School of Arts and Humanities for a research award which enabled me to do research in Italy. Many thanks to the staff of the Keats-Shelley House in Rome and Bologna’s Pinacoteca for your help. I wish also to express my gratitude to the dynamic group of professors at the University of Montana, Missoula, especially Dr. Robert Baker for introducing me to Wordsworth and Woolf, and Dr. Ashby Kinch, who taught me to value and invest in the process of writing.

    Thanks are due to the friends I have made here in Glasgow, in Italy and the dear ones who supported me from across the pond. Thank you to Katy and Des for your generosity, lively conversation and food. My life in Glasgow would certainly have been very different without you both. To Anne-Marie whose unwavering support, especially in the final few months, kept me going. Thank you to Phoebe, Maisie, Sam, Niall and Ben; Sarah and McKenzie; Kristel and Mike. Un rigraziamento particolare a Giovanna e Arrigo che mi hanno permesso di scrivere parte di questa tesi in un posto magico come Bosco Radici e che si sono presi cura di me nutrendomi a dovere. Tutto il mio affetto e la mia gratitudine anche a Francesca, a Miriana e al resto della famiglia allargata.

    Thank you to my family who always lifted me up and planted the love of learning in me. Many thanks especially to my mom and my sister. In the true style of the Evart ladies, you kept me going each time I stumbled. What I owe to you both would fill another thesis, so I’ll just say I love you.

    Voglio infine ringraziare te Paolo. No ho parole per dire quanto il tuo sorriso sempre pronto e il tuo supporto quotidiano abbiano rappresentato per me, ma sono così felice di affrontare la vita come in un viaggio insieme, l’uno a fianco dell’altro. Solo dopo essermi sentita finalmente a casa, ho potuto dare inizio al mio lavoro.

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  • Author’s Declaration

    I declare that, except where explicit reference is made to the contribution of others, that this dissertation is the result of my own work and has not been submitted for any other degree at the University of Glasgow or any other institution.

    Signature _______________________________

    Printed name Maureen Clare McCue

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  • List of Figures

    Figure 1: ‘Cristina’ from Samuel Rogers’s Italy.

    Figure 2: ‘The Death of Raphael’ from Samuel Rogers’s Italy.

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