Painting out of the Ordinary

Modernity and the Art of Everday Life in Early Nineteenth-Century England

David H. Solkin

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At the height of the Napoleonic Wars, a new generation of painters led by the precociously talented David Wilkie took London's art world by storm. Their novel approach to the depiction of everyday life marked the beginning a trajectory that links the art of the Age of Revolution with the postmodern culture of today.

What emerged from the imagery of Wilkie and other early 19th-century British genre painters—among them William Mulready, Edward Bird, and the controversial watercolorist Thomas Heaphy—was a sense that common people were increasingly bound up with the exceptional events of history, that traditional boundaries between country and city were melting away, and that a more regularized and dynamic present was everywhere encroaching upon the customary patterns of the past.

David H. Solkin is professor of the social history of art, Courtauld Institute of Art. He is the author of Painting for Money: The Visual Arts and the Public Sphere in Eighteenth-Century England and editor of Art on The Line: The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780–1836, both published by Yale.

"[A] fascinating, meticulous study. . . . While the book's narrow focus seems appropriate for specialized/graduate libraries, the essays in each of the six chapters address broader themes of 19th-century visual culture and provide exemplary visual and contextual analysis of standard, and, more often, lesser-known works. Essential."—Choice

“The history of pre-Victorian British genre painting has long been a gap in academic studies, and David Solkin has now gone a long way to remedy this.” - Nicholas Tromans, Burlington Magazine

"Most striking has been the absence, until now, of any really substantive treatment of [British genre painting of domestic life] as a whole. David Solkin's Painting Out of the Ordinary, which attempts just such a treatment, is therefore most welcome, and especially so given that this is such a handsome volume. . . . Solkin's book . . . is both a major contribution to the study of British art and a thoroughly enjoyable read, its thought-provoking ideas and insights supported at every turn by Yale's superb reproductions."—Harry Mount, Oxford Art Journal
ISBN: 9780300140613
Publication Date: August 26, 2008
Co-publisher: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
288 pages, x
100 b/w + 150 color illus.
Art on the Line

The Royal Academy Exhibitions at Somerset House 1780–1836

Edited by David H. Solkin

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