Court, Country, City: British Art, 1660-1735 (2009-2012)

AHRC Grant 2009-2012: University of York and Tate Britain

Collaboration: University of York and Tate Britain

Funding: Arts and Humanities Research Council

Duration: three years from October 2009

Principal Investigator: Professor Mark Hallett (Head of Department of the Department of History of Art, University of York)

Co-Investigators: Professor Nigel Llewellyn (Head of Research, Tate) and Dr Martin Myrone (Curator, Tate)

The Project

The Court, Country, City research project, launched in October 2009, was intended to stimulate new approaches to British visual culture from 1660-1735. The period in question saw profound changes in the nation's character and these included a similarly important period of transformation in the visual arts, beginning with the appointment of Peter Lely as court painter to Charles II and ending with the emergence of the St Martin's Lane Academy in the mid-1730s.

In terms of British art history, the later decades of the eighteenth century - the 'age of Hogarth and Reynolds' - have been relatively well explored; however, the art of the preceding period had not been recovered or interpreted in the same depth. It was in order to redress this art-historical imbalance, and to provide a set of fresh perspectives on the art of late-Stuart and early Georgian Britain, that this project was conceived and developed.

Researchers on the team had a wide range of interests and expertise, which were focused here on three major arenas of the visual arts of the period: the later Stuart and early Hanoverian courts; the country seats of the landed aristocracy; and the urban spaces occupied by a mix of social classes. Important cross-cutting themes included the development of art theory and the impact of imperial expansion on the visual arts. As well as generating a wide range of publications - including books, journal articles, conference papers and PhDs - the project also aimed to communicate the period to a wider audience through gallery displays of art and online resources.

The project was administered by the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York.

The project gave rise to the extensive online database of primary sources, The Art World in Britain, 1660 to 1735.

Main image: Robert Streater, ceiling of the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford (detail), 1667-69 (©John Cairns Photography)

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