The World in Paint

Modern Art and Visuality in England, 18481914

By (author) David Peters Corbett

Paperback - £41.95

Publication date:

15 August 2004

Length of book:

256 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271023618

Familiar narratives about the nature of English modernism, "tradition," and "periodization," together with the "literary" character of English art from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries, are abandoned in this innovative and important book. In their stead, David Peters Corbett proposes a new way of looking at this painting from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Vorticists.

Arguing that art history has been too reluctant to confront the fundamental question of how and what the consistency and application of paint signifies, Corbett investigates the work of English artists—among them Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Leighton, Watts, Whistler, Sickert, and the modernists of 1914 —through a historical examination of the meanings of the visual in English culture. By revealing that for many artists and thinkers the visual promised to deliver a more profound understanding of the world than language, the book offers a new reading of the art of the period between 1848 and the First World War.

“Corbett is one of very few scholars who are thinking deeply about the future direction of art history, and of even fewer who are doing so in the context of British art. This book has the potential to lead the way not only in its own field but also in art history as a discipline.”

—Elizabeth Prettejohn, University of Plymouth