Painting as Spectacle

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16 artworks

The years 1785-1865 were the era of the ‘statement picture’. Spectacular paintings of a colossal size were created with educated and cultured audiences in mind. Some, including the works in this display by were private commissions made on a royal scale which presented family history as national propaganda.

The Royal Academy of Arts, founded in London in 1768, and the Royal Scottish Academy, established in Edinburgh in 1826, provided a prominent stage for exhibiting such theatrical blockbusters.Certain entrepreneurial artists, including John Singleton Copley and Samuel Bough, produced celebratory modern history paintings as commercial speculations, dealers and publishers collaborating with artists by issuing reproduction prints of these epic works for the popular market.

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