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Poetry, Politics and Pictures

Culture and Identity in Europe, 1840–1914

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Edited By Ingrid Hanson, Jack Rhoden and Erin Snyder

This collection offers new perspectives on the connections between politics, identity and representation in art and poetry in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain and Europe. Contributions explore questions such as the following: what was the effect of the reciprocity of political, religious and artistic influence in nineteenth-century Britain and Europe? How were key political moments or movements influenced by or influential on literary and artistic form? How did the styles and forms of the past shape the political expressions of the nineteenth-century present? By what means did politically inflected art and literature shape the emerging construction of national, class or religious identities in the nineteenth century?
Ranging across not only Britain but also France, Germany, Belgium, Finland, Spain and Italy, the essays draw on different discourses and art forms. They all utilise concepts of cultural materialism to shape an understanding of the contingent relationships between national and international public discourse and identity, political change and cultural production as well as the reproduction, translation, influence and dissemination of both politics and culture in art and literature.

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I Identity and the Politics of Aesthetics

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IIdentity and the Politics of Aesthetics Jan Dirk Baetens Form, Reform and Reformation: The Politics of Pre-Rubenism In a letter dated 14 May 1862, written after a visit to the International Exhibition in London, Dante Gabriel Rossetti confessed to Ford Madox Brown that he was ‘absolutely knocked down and trodden on’ by the works on view by the Belgian painter Henri Leys (Fredeman 2002–2006: vol. i, 471). A few weeks later, Rossetti referred to Leys again in a letter to the playwright Henry Taylor, in which he compared Taylor’s St Clement’s Eve (1862) with the work of ‘the great Belgian painter’ (Fredeman 2002–2006: i, 473). In May 1868, Rossetti mentioned Leys in another letter, this one addressed to George James Howard. He announced that the art dealer Ernest Gambart would introduce him to the Belgian painter, who was then visiting London as an invited participant in the Royal Academy’s annual exhibition. Rossetti invited Howard to join him and Leys in his studio, and added excitedly: ‘I need hardly say that I will then hope to enjoy in your company the long desired pleasure of seeing him, and such advantages as ought to result from the salutary sense of humility his presence will occa- sion’ (Fredeman 2002–2006: iv, 57). Whilst the past few decades have witnessed a steadily growing schol- arly interest in the oeuvre of Rossetti and the other Pre-Raphaelites, Leys’s work remains largely unknown.1 This article examines some of Leys’s heav- 1 This article is taken...

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