210 pages | 47 Color Illus. | 41 B/W Illus.
The face of John Wesley (1703–91), the Methodist leader, became one of the most familiar images in the English-speaking and transatlantic worlds through the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. After the dozen or so painted portraits made during his lifetime came numbers of posthumous portraits and moralising ‘scene paintings’, and hundreds of variations of prints. It was calculated that six million copies were produced of one print alone – an 1827 portrait by John Jackson R.A. as frontispiece for a hymn book.
Illustrated by nearly one hundred images, many in colour, with a comprehensive appendix listing known Wesley images, this book offers a much-needed comprehensive and critical survey of one of the most influential religious and public figures of eighteenth-century Britain. Besides chapters on portraits from the life and after, scene paintings and prints, it explores aspects of Wesley’s (and Methodism’s) attitudes to art, and the personality cult which gathered around Wesley as Methodism expanded globally. It will be of interest to art historians as a treatment of an individual sitter and subject, as well as to scholars engaged in Wesley and Methodist studies. It is also significant for the field of material studies, given the spread and use of the image, on artefacts as well as on paper.
1 ‘A far greater Genius than Sir Joshua’: some issues and complexities around the portraiture
2 ‘This melancholy employment’: portraits from the life to 1780
3 ‘I yielded to importunity’: portraits from the life 1781-1791
4 Prints and posthumous portraits: spreading and selling the image
5 Scene paintings
6 Pottery and sculpture – a note
7 No striking likeness? Images and ambiguities
8 ‘The Pious Preacher’: satire
9 ‘Of pictures I do not pretend to be a judge’: John Wesley and art
10 Image, identity and institution: constructing a canon
11 Conclusions: visualising Mr. Wesley
Appendix A – Iconography of principal paintings of John Wesley, with selected prints
Appendix B – References in John Wesley’s Journal and diaries to portraits and painters
Editorial Board: Ted A. Campbell, David N. Hempton, Priscilla Pope-Levison, Martin Wellings and Karen B. Westerfield Tucker
Methodism remains one of the largest denominations in the USA and is growing in South America, Africa and Asia (especially in Korea and China). This series spans Methodist history and theology, exploring its success as a movement historically and in its global expansion. Books in the series will look particularly at features within Methodism which attract wide interest, including: the unique position of the Wesleys; the prominent role of women and minorities in Methodism; the interaction between Methodism and politics; the ‘Methodist conscience’ and its motivation for temperance and pacifist movements; the wide range of Pentecostal, holiness and evangelical movements; and the interaction of Methodism with different cultures.