CAA 2016

The CAA 104th Annual Conference will take place February 3–6, 2016, in Washington, D.C. HBA will be hosting a session on Pre-Raphaelitism in the late 20th and 21st centuries chaired by Susan Casteras and our annual business meeting, which will include two presentations by young scholars. Saturday’s schedule also includes a session on nineteenth-century London.


Filthy Lucre. Installation by Darren Waterston. Photo: John Tsantes.

Members are also invited to a free drinks and hors d’oeuvres reception at the Smithsonian Institution’s Sackler Gallery on Friday, 5 February, 6:00–8:00pm

On private view for us will be the acclaimed installation Peacock Room REMIX: Darren Waterston’s Filthy Lucre and also the temporary exhibition The Lost Symphony: Whistler and the Perfection of Art. From 6:30 to 7:00pm, a lively conversation will occur among the artist Darren Waterston, Sackler curator Lee Glazer, Historians of British Art president Craig Hanson, and Association of Historians of Nineteenth-Century Art Peter Trippi. We will discuss how collections of 19th-century art nationwide are being re-thought to better engage with contemporary artists and admirers of contemporary art. This conversation will be followed by a walk through Filthy Lucre led by Darren Waterston, the Peacock Room expert Linda Merrill (Emory University), and Robyn Asleson, the expert on 19th-century British art currently based at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts. This is a truly unique opportunity to hear leading voices discuss world-class historical and new art in a room full of colleagues.

Please RSVP to

Historians of British Art Business Meeting / Young Scholar Session
Friday, 5 February 2016, 7:30–9:00am

Chaired by Craig Hanson

Courtney Long (University of Pittsburgh), “Classifying Architecture: Intersections of Architectural and Natural History in Nineteenth-Century Great Britain”

Since its mid-nineteenth-century formation as an academic discipline, art history has been influenced by the history of science and scientific research. The correlation between natural history and architectural history, however, has been largely ignored. Addressing that gap, this paper situates medieval British ecclesiastical architectural history within the broader framework of natural history through an analysis of taxonomic systems.

In his Systema Natura first published in 1735, Carl Linnaeus (1707–1787) offered a method for understanding the natural world according to categorical arrangements of minerals, vegetables, and animals. Similarly, architect and historian Thomas Rickman (1776–1841) assigned four stylistic periods to categorize medieval British ecclesiastical architecture: Norman, Early English, Decorated English, and Perpendicular English.  Just as Linnaeus diagrammed the contours of leaf forms on a page, Thomas Rickman, and his contemporary,  Edmund Sharpe (1809–1877), diagrammed windows and used their shape and decoration as empirical evidence to map the categorical and chronological transitions in medieval architecture from the eleventh to the sixteenth century. Linnaeus’s taxonomy not only provided the basis for organized study of the earth and all its parts, but also offered a systematic method for naturalists, philosophers, and historians to categorize their own fields of investigation. Examining the work of Rickman and Sharpe, this paper investigates how these two British architectural historians advanced a new kind of objective, scientific sight for the study of medieval ecclesiastical architecture on the one hand, and contributed to the production of architectural knowledge-making that was both conceived of and functioning as a scientific endeavor in the first half of the nineteenth century, on the other.

Ariel Kline (Williams College), “‘A Dog’s Eye’: Perception and Instinct in Briton Riviere’s Animal Paintings”

Many paintings by Briton Riviere (1840–1920) are concerned with animal looking. The late Victorian academician painted perceiving animals and, in so doing, crafted novel images that grapple with concepts beyond the limits of contemporaneous evolutionary discourse. Whereas the mental workings of animals were often framed anthropomorphically—that is, in terms of reason—by British artists such as Edwin Landseer (1802–1873) and theorists such as Charles Darwin (1809–1882), George Romanes (1848–1894), and William Lauder Lindsay (1829–1880), Riviere’s paintings contrast rational thinking by exploring perception during a crucial period intensely fraught with inquiries concerning animals’ cognitive abilities. This paper aims to explore animal perception as a kind of temporal fulcrum between reason and instinct, a moment in cognition that, when depicted visually, became an artistic strategy that opened discourse and allowed for instinctual knowledge as a viable alternative to human-centered rational processes. It will also develop animal visual perception as a subject coinciding with a collective ambivalence toward empiricism, especially in the field of animal studies, and question the extent to which the unsteadiness of human observational techniques was contrasted by Riviere’s confident depictions of animal sight.

London: Capital of the Nineteenth Century
Saturday, 6 February 2016, 9:30—12:00

Chairs: Jason Rosenfeld (Marymount Manhattan College) and Timothy J. Barringer (Yale University)

Catherine Roach (Virginia Commonwealth University), “London: Exhibition Capital of the Nineteenth Century”
Nicole Simpson (Baltimore Museum), “William Bernard Cooke and the First Independent Print Exhibitions in London, 1821–1824”
Carla Hermann (Art Institute, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), “Political and Cultural Power: The Panoramas of Rio de Janeiro in London and Paris in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century”
Laura Kalba (Smith College), “Philistinism and the Financial Industry: Visual Culture of the City of London”
Alison R. W. Hokanson (The Metropolitan Museum of Art), “L’Esthétique Anglaise: The Belgian Avant-Garde and British Art”

Reforming Pre-Raphaelitism in the Late 20th and 21st Centuries: New Contexts, Paradigms, and Visions
Saturday, 6 February 2016, 12:30–2:00

Chaired by Susan Casteras (University of Washington)

Since its formation in 1848, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the phenomenon of Pre-Raphaelitism have continued to evolve and reinvent themselves, and in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries has been revived in ways that transmit and transform its style, ideas, themes, and influence. This has occurred for numerous reasons, from admiration for selected Pre-Raphaelite tenets and artists (especially Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, William Morris, and others in their circle) to nostalgia for certain aspects of its imagery in a new, post-modern era of industrial/technological revolution. The heterogeneous responses have proven global, with some ties stronger and more self-consciously claimed, and others more tenuous and subtle.

These creative extensions and transformations of Pre-Raphaelitism have generated considerable fluidity in manifestations throughout various media, from the fine arts to film, fashion, literature, photography, book illustration, graphic novels, music performance, popular culture, Steampunk, and in the digital realm, innumerable special websites, blogs, and databases. There are new generations of advocates, including couturiers like Valentino, magazines such as Vogue and Vanity Fair, and reiterations of stunners in super models-cum-muses like Lily Cole. Some materializations of expression come from individuals, others from loosely allied groups who overtly admired Pre-Raphaelitism and were interested in re-adapting and remediating it to their own art, purposes, and era. The online presence is especially revivifyng and powerful, e.g., as conveyed via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr, all testimony to the modes in which Pre-Raphaelitism has not just survived, but thrived in the twenty-first century. The session aims to explore these fields and other extensions and reformations of Pre-Raphaelitism as well as the possible reasons for this renewal and even renaissance of focus.

Robyn Asleson (CASVA, National Gallery of Art), “Popular Music and Pre-Raphaelitism(s) in England, 1972–2012”

Through selective emulation of aspects of late-Victorian art, generations of English musicians have perennially reshaped the concept of ‘Pre-Raphaelitism’ in popular culture. Like the Pre-Raphaelites themselves, these musicians have sought to differentiate themselves from their contemporaries by reinterpreting and reinvigorating a historical past in ways that seem exhilaratingly modern, often by integrating art historical intertextuality with state-of-the-art technology.  My paper examines the strategic deployment of Pre-Raphaelite imagery and themes by musicians of the 1972–2012 period, whose music videos, performances, and official photography have consciously alluded to Pre-Raphaelite works of art and a range of related themes, including myth, androgyny, the femme fatale, and Aestheticism. By identifying the specific aspects of Pre-Raphaelite art that have been foregrounded in the imagery of popular music, I intend to highlight the originality and innovation that fuel historical  ‘revivals’, as well as the agency of the past in propelling the present into the future.

Madeleine Pearce (The Burlington Magazine / Visual Resources Journal), “Digital Curation and the Pre-Raphaelites”

Fair was the web, and nobly wrought
—Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “Death-in-Love,” The House of Life,
The Rossetti Archive (accessed 31 May 2012).

In the last decade several significant online archives and resources have emerged surrounding the Pre-Raphaelites and their circle, such as the Rossetti Archive and BMAG’s Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource. At the same time, many Pre-Raphaelite scholars and authors are using social media and online resources to further their research and connect with the audiences for their work.

Through interviewing bloggers, authors, curators, archivists and academics, there emerges a real-life snapshot of how Pre-Raphaelite online resources are being created and utilized. This sample provides a view of current trends and demonstrates digital curation issues these professionals are experiencing; areas of overlap between disciplines and new ways of working become more apparent. It also addresses perceptions surrounding online resources in terms of their usability, integrity, and academic value. Grey areas of ownership of ideas and imagery being explored through movements such as Creative Commons show how technological changes impact them.

This paper aims to show how the act of digital curation has brought together these professionals in a new way, allowing for a collaborative process across disciplines. It explains how this new curatorial focus has improved the ability to disseminate Pre-Raphaelite art across the globe and facilitate a richer, more contextualized experience for users. Usage of metadata, reciprocal linking and carefully planned presentation and indexing of digital assets has transformed how research can be conducted. It has led to previously unimaginable relevancy in the searching and comparing of artworks, texts and correspondence from members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle. The rise of social media has created an interconnected circle of credibility and community between both amateur and professional researchers. The wealth of enhanced scholarship gathered through active engagement and contributions will ensure Pre-Raphaelite art will not only survive, but thrive for future generations.

This paper originated from my History of Art MA summer research project at Birkbeck, where it received a distinction. Earlier versions were also presented at the annual Computers and the History of Art conference (London, November 2012) and ‘Pre-Raphaelitism: Past, Present and Future’ (Oxford, September of 2013). The present paper includes updated information and explanatory material to reflect the climate in 2016.

Alison Syme (University of Toronto), “Our English Ghosts: The Pre-Raphaelite Landscape in Drowning by Numbers

Peter Greenaway has stated that his film Drowning by Numbers was influenced by a set of “moralised” landscape paintings from the 1850s by Holman Hunt, Millais, Brown, Hughes, Brett, Windus, and Dyce. The landscape of the film made and set in the 1980s is, in Greenaway’s words, “re-imagined” through these mostly Pre-Raphaelite pictures—their mood, minutiae, metaphors, and moral lessons. Greenaway identifies Holman Hunt’s Hireling Shepherd as an especially important source that is “quoted by inference … in affection for its marriage of superb surface and workmanship with public and private layering of meaning and metaphor.” Millais’s Ophelia and other Pre-Raphaelite paintings are also evoked by the characters, scenarios, and settings of this film of three drownings and other deaths, but inversions abound: it is not the female protagonists who drown here; rather, it is the husbands of these femmes fatales who meet their watery ends. This paper explores the film’s landscapes, from trysting field to river bank, kitchen garden to seaside beach, with a view to unearthing what Greenaway’s Pre-Raphaelite “inferences” reveal about the Victorian paintings and their contemporary relevance, the English national imaginary, and the act of picturing nature with fidelity.

Elisa Korb (Misericordia University), “Animated Archetypes: Disney and the Pre-Raphaelites”

Although Pre-Raphaelitism and its relative movements (i.e., Aestheticism, Symbolism, Arts & Crafts, etc.) appear to have diminished in influence by the start of World War I, Walt Disney (190–66) and his associate animators applied these artistic principles and archetypes as an inspirational foundation beginning in the late 1930s. The first evidence of this is in preliminary studies for Disney’s seminal work: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937).

Early drawings for both Snow White and her nemesis, the Evil Queen (dubbed ‘Grimhilde’ by Disney writer Merrill de Maris), are rooted in the Pre-Raphaelite Virgin and Symbolist Whore Archetypes, respectively. While the finished, materialized characters reflect the Art Deco and Flapper zeitgeist of that era, the concept drawings of Snow White are rooted in the work of John Everett Millais (1829–96), Walter Crane (1845–1915) and Albert Joseph Moore (1841–93), those of Grimhilde are based on works by Fernand Khnopff (1858–1921), John William Waterhouse (1849–1917), and Henry Meynell Rheam (1859–1920), among others.

As the twentieth century progressed, Disney animators continued to evoke Pre-Raphaelitism, especially wherever the protagonist of the film is female. Edward Burne-Jones (1833–98), Millais, and Crane form the visual basis for Cinderella (1950), while John Tenniel (1820–1914) is the obvious point of origin for the 1951 film Alice in Wonderland.

In fact, wherever Disney deals with Eurocentric themes/casts and where there’s a clear Anima struggle (i.e., Virgin v. Whore, Stunted Anima, etc.), animators have consistently turned to this nineteenth-century movement for assistance with visual character development. The pattern continues in both traditional and 3D computer generated animation from the mid-twentieth century into the twenty-first, with Sleeping Beauty (1959), The Little Mermaid (1989), Beauty & the Beast (1991), Tangled (2010), Brave (2012), and Frozen (2013). Pre-Raphaelite antecedents are also found in storyboards and other concept materials for hybrid and live-action films like Enchanted (2007), Alice in Wonderland (2010), Maleficent (2014), and Cinderella (2015). While these finished products clearly have been ‘Disney-fied’, the core, or root of the design is embedded in Pre-Raphaelite sensibility and tradition.

What is it about this imagery that is so evocative and dynamic to capture the eye and imagination more than a century after its artistic decline? Like Disney films themselves, Pre-Raphaelitism is a hybridization. And that ensures its survival, because it is unique, yet its infrastructure is firmly in the familiar. It is a combination of the contemporary and the ancestral, the real and fantastical, the absurd and transcendent—not only in terms of the purely visual, but in its themes, subjects and symbols. It is a movement that captures the indefinable contradiction inherent in us as humans, grounded in the mundane, but desperately longing and hoping for the magical.

Note (added 2 February) — The original posting here failed to include Saturday’s session on London. My apologies! CH

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