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Images of Greeks in British and French art, c.1833-1880: Physical anthropology, art and society.

Leoussi, Athena S (1992) Images of Greeks in British and French art, c.1833-1880: Physical anthropology, art and society. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The aim of this study is to measure the extent of the 'Greek revivals' in official British and French artistic practice during the second half of the nineteenth century and to explore their links with different parts of their social context. To this end I concentrate on the works of art illustrating aspects of Greek culture and life, both ancient and modern, which were exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Salon between 1833 and 1880. I study their numbers, themes and dates, and examine the role in these 'Greek revivals' of developments both inside and outside the sphere of art. I consider the following circumstances: firstly, the importation into Western Europe of naturalist Pheidian art, secondly, the development of certain 'scientific' ideas about the ancient Greek body in its connexion with the cultural and political achievements of the ancient Greeks through the development of Physical Anthropology, and, thirdly, the expansion of positivism in other spheres of life. The adoption of 'scientific' solutions, including the idea of race, to certain social problems introduced ancient Greek values and practices regarding the body into the aesthetic, religious, national and political conceptions and institutions of British and French societies. The fact that certain new elements of ancient Greek culture and institutions became, in the course of the nineteenth-century, an important component of British and French conceptions and institutions of national identity, nation-building, religious salvation or self-realisation and political life, justifies us in understanding British and French works of art on ancient Greek subjects as so many screens on which actual social ideals and institutions were projected. This cultural significance of the ancient Greeks also explains British and French artists' orientation towards the representation of both Greek subjects in general and of particular elements of ancient Greek culture and institutions in particular, as well as the expansion of the use of the Pheidian figural type to illustrate these themes. Finally, it justifies a distinction among works on Greek subjects into three main and overlapping categories: mythology; Greeks in general and ancient Greek athletes; and ancient Greek male political mythological and historical personages or 'heroes'.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Art History
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses

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