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    Composing the spectacle: colonial portraiture and the Coronation Durbars of British India, 1877-1911'

    Willcock, Sean (2017) Composing the spectacle: colonial portraiture and the Coronation Durbars of British India, 1877-1911'. Art History 40 (1), pp. 132-155. ISSN 0141-6790.

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    Abstract

    At the Royal Academy Exhibition of 1880, Val Prinsep’s vast group portrait of British and Indian rulers was singled out for virulent criticism. This paper argues that Prinsep’s commemorative painting of the ‘Imperial Assemblage’ held in Delhi in 1877 registered as a crisis of imperial governance, disrupting the sober visual strategies that had emerged in British portraiture to secure social cohesion. The colourful heterogeneity of the Indian rulers’ dress stood in contrast to the monochromatic palette that dominated Victorian portraits – an aesthetic uniformity that had worked to picture a fractious parliamentary system in terms of an overarching political stability. A key reality of empire – cross-cultural interaction – therefore undermined acceptable aesthetic conventions. At a time when colonial governance was increasingly wedded to the logic of the spectacle, such visual turbulence was no small matter.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Arts > History of Art
    Depositing User: Sean Willcock
    Date Deposited: 21 May 2019 10:16
    Last Modified: 15 Feb 2020 10:51
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/27502

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