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Views of Albion

The Reception of British Art and Design in Central Europe, 1890–1918


Andrzej Szczerski

Views of Albion is the first comprehensive study of the reception of British art and design in Central Europe at the turn of the twentieth century. The author proposes a new map of European Art Nouveau, where direct contacts between peripheral cultures were more significant than the influence of Paris. These new patterns of artistic exchange, often without historic precedence, gave art during this period its unique character and dynamism.
Beginning with an analysis of the concept of Central Europe, the book examines knowledge about British art and design in the region. In subsequent chapters the author looks at the reception of the Pre-Raphaelites in painting and graphic arts as well as analysing diverse responses to the Arts and Crafts Movement in Germany, Austria, Poland, Bohemia, Slovakia, Hungary and Southern Slavic countries. The epilogue reveals the British interest in Central Europe, echoed in the designs Walter Crane, Charles Robert Ashbee and publications of The Studio.
The book questions the insularity of British culture and offers new insights into art and design of Central Europe at the fin de siècle. It presents the region as a vital part of the international Art Nouveau, but also shows its specific features, visible in the works of artists such as Alfons Mucha, Gustav Klimt and Stanisław Wyspiański.
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The present book was conceived on the basis of a PhD thesis titled “Recepcja sztuki brytyjskiej w Europie Środkowej około roku 1900 [The Reception of British Art in Central Europe at Around 1900]”, defended at the Institute of Art History at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, June 2000. I would like to thank my PhD supervisor Tomasz Gryglewicz, who inspired me with his interest in Central European issues and has helped me to rediscover it anew for the purpose of my research. I have also had the good fortune of receiving a great deal of very valuable advice from Wojciech Bałus, Dana Bořutová, Peter Cormack, David Crowley, Katalin Géller, Zsusanna Gonda, Jeremy Howard, Zsusanna Jobbágyi, and Katalin Keserü. Eszter Tiszavári and Teréz Emöd from the library and archives of the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest have shown me great kindness and patience, while András Hadik and Pál Ritoók from the Hungarian Museum of Architecture in Budapest have been an inexhaustible source of information and inspiration. What was of key importance in terms of the final shape of the book was input from the reviewers of my doctoral thesis: Piotr Piotrowski, who showed me new methodological perspectives in connection with the question of art geography, as well as Jacek Purchla, who made it possible for me to discover new takes on the civilizational specificity of Central Europe.

The book was first published in Polish...

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