Art and Its Publics, <i>c.</i> 1800

James J. Sheehan

in Unity and Diversity in European Culture c.1800

Published by British Academy

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780197263822
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734960 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Art and Its Publics, c. 1800

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This chapter begins by sketching the principal ingredients of what Paul Kristeller called ‘the modern system of the arts’: the concept of art itself; art as created by an artist; and art as public. It then examines the condition of the visual arts at the beginning of the nineteenth century, that is, in the middle of the great revolutionary era that began in 1789. In talking about the arts, a Tocquevillian sense of continuity between old regime and revolution is wholly appropriate. The revolution changed the modern art world in several important ways. Three of these changes are discussed. The first has to do with the social setting of art and artists, and especially with artists' changing relationship to patrons and the public. The second concerns the geographical location of art, particularly the shift in the visual arts' centre of gravity away from Italy to Paris, which would remain the artistic capital of Europe for the next century. The third theme is about the complex relationship of national values and national themes to European art, especially painting.

Keywords: Europe; art; visual arts; nineteenth century; artists; patrons; geographical location; Italy; Paris; painting

Chapter.  5280 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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