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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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CHAPTER 2: Knowledge of British Art and Design in Central Europe around 1900


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Knowledge of British Art and Design in Central Europe around 1900

Exhibitions of British Art and Design in Central Europe

Although the nineteenth century brought multiple reproduction techniques which radically increased the potential audience for visual arts, they could not replace contact with original works of art. Around 1900, access to original works was possible owing to diverse exhibition initiatives which intensified thanks to the support of many different patrons.

The major exhibition centres promoting British art and design in Central Europe around 1900 were Munich, Vienna, and Budapest. Berlin played an important role in the German Empire, but rose to international importance only in the 1910s as a centre of European avant-garde art. Other provincial centres existed as well, the most notable of which was Prague. All these cities exhibited works of a similar group of British artists known across Europe and appreciated in Great Britain. Realist painters of the late Victorian era enjoyed a prominent position, while Pre-Raphaelite, Arts and Crafts Movement and Modern Style artists were an exception. The emphasis was different in Munich, Vienna, and Budapest; artists who were less successful in other parts of Europe were often highly appreciated here. However, exhibitions of British art and design remained rather infrequent. This had less to do with particular conditions in Central Europe than with general trends in the art world in Europe around 1900 and the British tradition of cultural and political “splendid...

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