William Beckford's <i>Biographical Memoirs of Extraordinary Painters (1780)</i>

Karen Junod

in ‘Writing the Lives of Painters’

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199597000
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725357 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

William Beckford's Biographical Memoirs of Extraordinary Painters (1780)

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Chapter 3 argues that Beckford's Biographical Memoirs of Extraordinary Painters (1780) should be regarded as an idiosyncratic response to the connoisseurial discourse elaborated in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Beckford's knowledge of art and art theory, combined with his talents as a satirical novelist, produced a work which was not only funny but also theoretically insightful. Beckford's work directly responded to, and was inspired by, other contemporary writing on art and artists. Indeed, the Memoirs was closely related to other artistic satires produced in England, by writers such as Henry Bate Dudley, Peter Pindar, and Anthony Pasquin. Beckford's text also contains certain tropes and topoi – already present in Walpole's Anecdotes – which participated in constructing specific artistic individualities, some of which would re-emerge later in the lives of historical British painters.

Keywords: Beckford; Biographical Memoirs; connoisseurship; satire; Dudley; Pindar; Pasquin

Chapter.  10311 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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