Journal Article

James Thomson's picture collection and British history painting

Sebastian Mitchell

in Journal of the History of Collections

Volume 23, issue 1, pages 127-151
Published in print May 2011 | ISSN: 0954-6650
Published online December 2010 | e-ISSN: 1477-8564 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jhc/fhq017
James Thomson's picture collection and British history painting

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James Thomson (1700–48) has long been recognized as one of the most visually astute of British poets. He incorporated pictorially ways of seeing into his verse, and, in turn, had a considerable influence on landscape and genre painting. There is a sale catalogue of his goods from 1749: this catalogue lists his pictures (73 prints and 10 drawings), and states in which rooms of his house these were displayed. It has been possible to view the majority of these images, and to reconstruct the appearance of this collection. The essay considers the compilation of the collection; the inter-connectedness of its imagery; and the relationship of Thomson's pictures to his writings. The article argues that Thomson was more concerned with the development of the standards of British historical painting than those of landscape or genre art. A transcription of the catalogue of prints and drawings is provided as an appendix.

Journal Article.  11920 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Exhibition Catalogues and Specific Collections ; History of Art ; Social and Cultural History

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