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‘Writing the Lives of Painters’Biography and Artistic Identity in Britain 1760-1810$
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Karen Junod

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199597000

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199597000.001.0001

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Horace Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England (1762–1780)

Horace Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England (1762–1780)

(p.51) 2 Horace Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England (1762–1780)
‘Writing the Lives of Painters’

Karen Junod (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 and the following one focus on two biographical compendia: Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting in England (1762–80) and Beckford's satirical Biographical Memoirs of Extraordinary Painters (1780). Horace Walpole's Anecdotes is usually considered the first comprehensive biographical history of the arts in England. This chapter analyses the literary structure of this text and asks the following questions: how did Walpole define and conceive of his historical project? How did he assess British art? How did he identify and publicly fashion himself as an author? The chapter examines Walpole's appropriations of George Vertue's ‘Notebooks‘. It concludes with a discussion of specific artistic topoi and shows how these formulaic anecdotes contributed to shaping certain images of artists that would developed more fully in the biographies of nineteenth-century British painters.

Keywords:   Walpole, Anecdotes of Painting, Vertue, Notebooks, biographical history, British art, topoi

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