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Alice Ottazzi // Between object and image - the multiple lives of English prints in 18th-century Germany

This project arises out of my doctoral thesis on the reception of the British school in Paris in the 18th century. As I was able to demonstrate that the constant increasing of British prints into the French market resulted in an enrichment of the visual culture – mainly of French artists –, that in turn developed into an appropriation and re-elaboration of motifs, this project would like to broaden the investigation to the German context in order to enquire the parallelisms or dissimilarities with the French scene. It will be thus possible to complexify the articulations between the notions of reception, circulation, or the more recent concepts of cultural transfer and network in an analysis of the role played by the prints circulation in a transnational system.
If the cultural relationships between Great Britain and the continent are object of several studies, the more specific case of interaction with Germany remains less examined. Other studies focused on the art market and the critical reception of British art in Germany giving less attention to issues connected to the artistic production resulted from this circulation of images. This project aims then to analyses the different type of outcomes in the German production of the second half of the 18th century convoking both material and visual studies methodologies.
A particular consideration will be given to the collection of British prints held at the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung in Munich, whose core is represented by prince Carl Theodor von der Pfalz’s collection (1758). The inventory written in 1779 will be another main source to determine a development of the taste for British prints as well as identify artists’ names, subjects represented or techniques preferred. It will be then interesting to understand if, in Germany, engravers adopted the same techniques following the taste for this type of objects, as happened in France during the last two decades of the century. How German artists responded to British artistic production? And also, are the genres of the conversation pieces or of the modern moral paintings renovated by German artists? This investigation would also take in consideration artists’ drawings, key device in the process of copying and reformulation.

Caption: William Woollett after Benjamin West, The Battle at La Hogue, 1781 @ commons.wikimedia