1st Edition

Rethinking the Interior, c. 1867–1896 Aestheticism and Arts and Crafts

Edited By Jason Edwards, Imogen Hart Copyright 2012
    294 Pages
    by Routledge

    From Aesthetes in Africa to the cultural history of the teapot, the essays in this collection contribute to scholarly debates across a wide range of disciplines. Addressing the question of whether "eclectic" relationships in Victorian decorative arts are actually self-conscious iconographic schemes or merely random juxtapositions of assorted objects, Rethinking the Interior, c. 1867-1896: Aestheticism and Arts and Crafts, argues that no firm demarcation exists between the two movements examined here. In the process, the contributors explore a wide variety of interiors in locations as diverse as London, Cornwall, New England, and Tangiers. Analyzing spaces public and private, sacred and secular, the volume poses several historiographic challenges. Drawing on a wide range of feminist and queer theories, the book questions the identification of nineteenth-century interiors as exclusively female or family spaces. The collection also addresses the complex and temporary character of interiors, and responds to the recent scholarly trend to return questions of feeling and embodied experience to the study of the decorative arts.

    Contents: Introduction: the Victorian interior: a collaborative, eclectic introduction, Jason Edwards and Imogen Hart; Re-reading the green dining room, Sally-Anne Huxtable; Superabundance and disorder: Ruskin's 'two great evils' and the church of St Mary, Studley Royal, Jane Hawkes; An 'enchanted interior': William Morris at Kelmscott House, Imogen Hart; The lessons of Leighton House: aesthetics, politics, erotics, Jason Edwards; 'Fearful consequences ... of living up to one's teapot': men, women and 'cultchah' in the aesthetic movement, Anne Anderson; 'Of things both old and new': the work of Richard Coad and James MacLaren, Paul Holden; Paintings from nowhere: Walter Crane, socialism, and the aesthetic interior, Morna O'Neill; The aesthetics of the community: queer interiors and the desire for intimacy, John Potvin; 'Baffling arrangements': Vernon Lee and John Singer Sargent in queer Tangier, Diana Maltz; Sculpture and aesthetic intent in the late Victorian interior, Martina Droth; Timeline; Bibliography; Index.


    Jason Edwards is a Reader in Art History at the University of York, UK and Imogen Hart is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the Yale Center for British Art, USA.

    'This is an extremely important book that renegotiates and rewrites the somewhat conservative terrain of arts and crafts literature, and entices the pre-eminent scholarship on aestheticism away from literature into the areas of visual and material culture.' Janice Helland, Queen's University, Canada, author of British and Irish Home Art and Industries 1880-1914: Marketing Craft, Making Fashion

    'While the aesthetic and the Arts and Crafts movements have dominated understandings of interior design in the second half of the nineteenth century, scholars have frequently considered the two separately or in opposition to one another. But this new collection of essays [...] demonstrates their close connection in artistic thought and practice. The essays show evidence of both movements in architecture, interior design, sculpture, and painting. Victorianists will welcome this book’s repositioning of the late-nineteenth-century interior not as a forerunner to modernism-as it is often portrayed-but as a significant development in its own right... this is a great book filled with rich materials to be enjoyed by Victorianists.' Victorian Studies

    '... the editors can rightly claim that the essays in Rethinking the Interior, c. 1867-1896 advance scholarship on the relationship between the Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts movements through the close study of specific interiors. An important facet of this achievement concerns the many methodological innovations that the authors bring to their collective task of examining unstudied material and revisiting well published places.' Cercles