New books on 19th-century interiors
A book event co-organized by the William Morris Society in the United States and the Historic Interiors Affiliate Group of the Society of Architectural Historians
Friday, February 24, 1 pm EST(10 am PST, 11 am MST, 12 noon CST, 6:00 pm GMT)
Andrea Wolk Rager, The Radical Vision of Edward Burne-Jones (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, distributed by Yale University Press, 2022)The first scholarly monograph solely devoted to the artist since 1973, this book re-centers Burne-Jones’s practice in the decorative arts, demonstrating that he consistently questioned the boundaries of artistic media, in keeping with wider debates over the role of the arts in the nineteenth century. It illuminates how Burne-Jones’s art functioned not as a retreat from modernity, but as a vehicle for awakening, offering a protest against imperial aggression, capitalist economic inequality, and environmental destruction in the wake of the industrial revolution in nineteenth-century Britain.
John Holmes, Temple of Science: The Pre-Raphaelites and Oxford University Museum of Natural History (Bodleian Library and Oxford University Museum of Natural History, 2020)In the 1850s, some of England’s most eminent scientists worked with John Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites to design and decorate a new museum that was to be Oxford University’s first science faculty. Temple of Science sets out the history of the campaign to build the museum before taking the reader on a tour of the art of the museum itself. It looks at the façade and the central court, with their beautiful natural history carvings and marble columns illustrating geological strata, and at the pantheon of scientists. Together they form the world’s finest collection of Pre-Raphaelite sculpture.
Both books address ideas about the interior as a site for public and private artistic commissions and both discuss the Pre-Raphaelites, who were famously committed to the decorative arts and to bringing art into everyday life through the decoration of interiors. The session will be of interest to anyone who works within the broad, interdisciplinary fields of interiors, museum history, and/or nineteenth-century art.
The 90-minute event will begin with two short 15-minute presentations in which the authors will introduce their books and reflect on their methods and approaches to the field. Members of HIG and WMS-US will then moderate a discussion and invite questions from the audience.