Skip to main content Skip to navigation

High and Low Art: Visual Culture in London

Session Leader

Required Reading

  • John Brewer, The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century (London, 1997), pp.201-251: “The Market and the Academy
  • C. Suzanne Matheson, ‘ “A Shilling Well Laid Out”: The Royal Academy’s Early Public’ in David H.Solkin, Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House, 1780-1836 (New Haven and London, 2001), pp.39-53
  • Diana Donald, The Age of Caricature: Satirical Prints in the Reign of George III (New Haven and London, 1996), pp.1-21, ‘Introduction’
  • Eirwen Nicholson, ‘Consumers and Spectators: The Public of the Political Print in Eighteenth-Century England’ in History, 81 (1996), pp.5-21
  • You can get a sense of the kinds of imagery that is being produced in the second half of the eighteenth century by looking at the illustrations in additional chapters of Solkin’s Art on the Line and Donald’s The Age of Caricature, as well as the many monographs and catalogues on individual artists that you can find in the university library.


  • How and why did the market for art change in the course of the eighteenth century? To what extent was there conflict between the demands of the market and the artistic ideals held by painters?
  • How, and why, are audiences represented in visual imagery? What kinds of concerns do images of spectators reveal?
  • What were the functions of painting and printmaking in eighteenth-century society?

Further Reading

  • Bätschmann, Oscar. The Artist in the Modern World: The Conflict between Market and Self-Expression (Cologne, 1997).
  • Clayton, Timothy. The English Print, 1688-1802 (New Haven and London,
  • Craske, Matthew. Art in Europe, 1700-1830 (Oxford, 1997)
  • Dias, Rosie. ‘ “A World of Pictures”: Pall Mall and the Topography of Display, 1780- 1799’ in Miles Ogborn and Charles Withers (eds.), Georgian Geographies: Essays on Space, Place and Landscape in the Eighteenth Century (Manchester, 2004).
  • Lippincott, Louise. ‘Expanding on Portraiture: the market, the public and the hierarchy of genres in eighteenth-century Britain’ in Ann Bermingham and John Brewer, The Consumption of Culture, 1600-1800: Image, Object, Text (London and New York, 1997)
  • Lippincott, Louise. Selling Art in Georgian London: The Rise of Arthur Pond (New Haven and London, 1983)
  • Mannings, David. ‘At the Portrait Painter’s: How the Painters of the Eighteenth Century Conducted their Studios and Sittings’ in History Today, 27 (1977), 279‑97.
  • Solkin, David. Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century England (New Haven and London, 1993)
  • Solkin, David. Art on the Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House, 1780-1836 (New Haven and London, 2001)
  • Taylor, Brandon. Art for the Nation: Exhibitions and the London Public, 1747-2001 (London, 1999)
  • Whitley, William T.. Artists and their Friends in England, 1700-1799, 2 vols. (New York, 1968)

Sample Essay Questions

  • What strategies did eighteenth-century artists use to make their works commercially successful?
  • What effect did the Royal Academy exhibitions have on the ways in which art was produced and consumed?
  • Was it possible for painting in the eighteenth century to be both the product of a commercial society, and its antidote?