Oxford, 21-22 February 2019
Keynotes: Stacey Sell (National Gallery, Washington D.C.)
In light of the latest exhibition on Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) at Tate Britain (24 October 2018-24 February 2019), this two-day conference seeks a fresh reassessment of the artist who, standing at the forefront of a pivotal transition, was progressive but also resisted by ‘modernist’ art history. Burne-Jones’s complex use of tradition, which itself sought to challenge established artistic practices, is perhaps one reason he has been underappreciated, even as the Pre-Raphaelites have risen in popularity as the British nineteenth-century equivalent to the rebellious French avant-garde. This conference will explore new facets of Burne-Jones’s vast and varied oeuvre – we seek papers from a wide array of vantages to reflect the artist’s own innumerable interests that intersect in his pieces, which themselves reference one another. His paintings and decorative designs hang in galleries and churches throughout England and the world; this conference, in tandem with this major exhibition of his work at the Tate, anticipates renewed and energised international scholarship on the artist and his multitudinous connections, collaborations, and influences in the society, culture and art of the nineteenth century. We hope to further and more deeply dwell upon Burne-Jones’s influences and formation by hosting the conference in Oxford, where he studied at Exeter College and began making those pivotal decisions to turn to a career in art. Scheduled near the closing of the exhibition, so that we may reflect upon and reassess the show itself, the papers collected here would aim to impact the way Edward Burne-Jones is recognised and accessed in modern scholarship on Pre-Raphaelitism and Victorian society. We hope to stimulate discussion at the conference, and also to produce a comprehensive, dynamic publication reviewing the proceedings and offering even more material for further scholarship on this important artist whose body of work is so vast and varied that much remains to be discovered and discussed.
We are accepting paper proposals from an array of topics related to Burne-Jones and his complexly variegated oeuvre, not exclusive to:
- Biblical, mythical and poetic influences
- The fine and decorative arts; the interconnectivity between media within the oeuvre of Burne-Jones and how we can conceptualise it
- Materials, techniques, and studio practice
- Burne-Jones’s drawing practices
- Art and the Church in the 19th century
- Burne-Jones and Oxford
- Burne-Jones and Italy
- Burne-Jones and France
- Patronage and commission history, including the practice of Morris & Co.
- Critical reception
- The ‘Last Pre-Raphaelite’: Historiographical reception of Burne-Jones and his work from the 20th century to today
- After Burne-Jones: His Influence on Symbolism in England, Europe and America