This title was first published in 2002. 'Memory and Desire' is a lavishly illustrated account of the art world in Britain at the turn of the twentieth century. It calls upon rich resources of contemporary diaries, letters and art criticism, as well as the analysis of works of art to answer questions about how and why new artistic tendencies emerged and tastes changed. Eschewing the familiar narrative of an inevitable progress towards modernism, Kenneth McConkey considers a broad range of art and critical thinking in the period. Discussing the market for old master paintings, which rivalled those for modern art, and the question of how and why certain genres of art were particularly successful at the time, McConkey explores the detail and significance of contemporary taste. He draws upon the work of commercially successful painters such as John Singer Sargent, William Orpen, George Clausen, Alfred East, John Lavery and Philip Wilson Steer, and their critic-supporters to throw light upon current arguments about training, aesthetics, visual memory and the creation of new art. 'Memory and Desire' is a major contribution to our knowledge of this important period in British art.
'… attractive and revealing book.' W. S. Rodner, Tidewater Community College, Choice 'This is a challenging book, rich in its detail…' Robert Radford, The Art Book 'Like all the best art historical writing [this] book is both challenging and informative. Indirectly too, for by helping us to understand the past, our appreciation of the present is immeasurably assisted.' Art Newsletter Online '… this is a work of great scholarship, beautifully illustrated and drawing on a huge range of sources. It also offers a refreshing and original angle on this period in British art history and I would thoroughly recommend it as an inspiring read.' Frances Fowle, University of Edinburgh, Journal of the Scottish Society for Art History 'McConkey's extraordinary study is very wide-ranging as he tries to recapture the 'mentality of the late nineteenth century artist and the art lover in Britain'. The examination of the multiple forces at work that triggered the imaginations of artists and the ambitions of collectors is outlined admirably in this text. The doors McConkey has left ajar offer many opportunities for scholars to explore further the cultural forces that created the variegated and vigorous visual culture of Edwardian Britain.' Albion '…an important study of visual culture in the late-Victorian and Edwardian periods.' Victorian Studies
Contents: Victims of fashion; Savant and populaire - Connoisseurship and popular taste in the art of the past; The power of appreciation; Haunts of ancient peace; Fashionable flic-flac; The spirit of storms; The end of naturalism; The renaissance of the imagination; A walk in the park; Some men and a picture; Memory and visuality; Memory and modernity; Bibliography; Index.
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