Scene Painters who became Artists, Artists who became Scene Designers: Artists and the Theatre in Nineteenth Century Britain

Henry Andrews. The Trial of Queen Katherine. ‘Henry VIII’, Act II, Scene iv, Covent Garden. Oil on canvas. 1831. RSC Collection, Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Augustus Pugin worked with the Grieve family on the scenery for this production.

On Tuesday, 26 April from 18:00 – 19:30 BST, The University of Bristol Friends invite you to a fascinating talk about famous artists’ involvement with theatre scene painting.

A surprising number of nineteenth-century British artists (and at least one architect) commenced their careers as theatrical scene painters, while later in the century some established artists were persuaded to design theatre scenery. Some artists, such as W P Frith, enjoyed extensive social networks that included members of the theatrical profession. This talk will consider, among others, Clarkson Stanfield, David Roberts, John Wilson, Augustus Pugin, Thomas Sidney Cooper, William Leighton Leitch, Charles Marshall and Edward Burne-Jones.

Given the number of scenic artists who fashioned the way the nineteenth-century spectator looked at the world, not only through the theatre but also in so-called ‘higher’ art forms, one might ask to what extent both the natural world and the reality of the day-to-day environment were represented through an inexorably theatrical lens.

The presenter is Professor Jim Davis, Professor of Theatre Studies at the University of Warwick. He holds a BA in English from Oxford University and a PhD in Drama from the University of Exeter, where he wrote a dissertation on the comic actor John Liston under the supervision of Peter Thomson. From 1976-86 he taught Drama at Roehampton Institute of Higher Education (now Roehampton University), and from 1986-2003 he taught at the University of New South Wales, Australia, where has was also Head of Department for eight years. In 2004 he was appointed Professor and Head of Theatre Studies at Warwick University. His most recent books are Comic Acting and Portraiture in Late-Georgian and Regency England Cambridge University Press, 2015) – winner of the David Bradby Prize for International Theatre Research, Theatre & Entertainment (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) and Dickens Dramatized Volume II (Oxford University Press, 2017). He is also joint-author of Reflecting the Audience: London Theatre-going 1840–1880 (2001) – winner of the UK’s Theatre Book Prize – and has edited a book on Victorian pantomime (Palgrave MacMillan, 2010). He has published many book chapters and articles on nineteenth-century theatre. Currently, he is leading a three-year research project, funded by a large AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) grant on Theatre and Visual Culture in the nineteenth-century with colleagues from the University of Exeter. He is an editor of the refereed journal Nineteenth-Century Theatre and Film. A Bristolian by birth, his interest in theatre was stimulated by regular visits to Bristol Old Vic productions during the 1960s, when he was a pupil at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital School.

This FREE event is organised by the Friends of the University of Bristol Theatre Collection, a registered charity. But DONATIONS are very welcome – see options during the registration process on Eventbrite.

New members welcome , by downloading a membership form at–support-us/friends/

Register to attend the talk here