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    The artist travels: Augustus Earle at sea

    Thomas, Sarah (2014) The artist travels: Augustus Earle at sea. In: Cusack, T. (ed.) Framing the Ocean: Envisaging The Sea As A Social Space. Basingstoke, UK: Ashgate, pp. 71-84. ISBN 9781409465683.

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    The early decades of the nineteenth century witnessed the rise of a new generation of artists who travelled to the New World in search of new subjects, markets and, not least, the prospect of adventure. For such artists, Augustus Earle (1793-1838) among them, affirming authority as an eyewitness was crucial; one means of achieving this was to portray oneself during the very act of travelling. Earle’s self portraits are numerous—we find him, variously, admiring Rio de Janeiro, sitting pensively whilst stranded on the remote island of Tristan da Cunha, exploring the Bay of Islands with Maori in New Zealand, and clambering down the rocky foreshore of Sydney Harbour. Yet in the year before his death it was his sketches of shipboard life that he selected to work up into oils—Life in the Ocean Representing the Usual Occupations of the Young Officers in the Steerage of a British Frigate at Sea (c.1820-37) and Divine Service as it is Usually Performed on Board a British Frigate at Sea (c. 1820-37). This essay considers why Earle might have selected such unusual subjects for display at the Royal Academy at the end of his peripatetic life, and what they might tell us about this new type of travelling artist. They provide detailed and whimsical insights into the rigid social stratifications of British society. They also anticipate the JMW Turner (1775-1851) of paintings such as Snow-Storm (c1842) which moved beyond the representation of travel as the depiction of exotic locales, to a new phenomenological approach that sought to articulate the very experience of travel.


    Item Type: Book Section
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Augustus Earle, travelling artists
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Research Centres and Institutes: Nineteenth-Century Studies, Centre for
    Depositing User: Sarah Thomas
    Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2014 11:09
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:11


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