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The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography$
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Robin Winks

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205661

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205661.001.0001

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Art and Empire

Art and Empire

(p.571) 36 Art and Empire
The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume V: Historiography

Jeffrey Auerbach

Oxford University Press

The first works of art concerning the British Empire were probably produced by John White. However, the study of the art of the British Empire did not begin to develop until the mid-19th century. The historiography of art and the British Empire can be usefully divided into four phases, each capturing a certain need, or function, of the Empire at the time. The historiography of art and the British Empire has not only paralleled and reflected changes in the Empire, but can be expressed in terms of the Empire’s changing needs and functions. The beginnings of decolonization unleashed a flurry of writings about the art of the British Empire, especially Indian art. The historiography of the art of the British Empire has turned in a radically different direction since the late 1970s. To paraphrase an infamous phrase, although the sun has set on the British Empire, it has only just begun to rise on that Empire’s art.

Keywords:   British Empire, Indian art, historiography, decolonization, John White

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