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James Gillray's Design for a Naval Pillar: Naval Heroism and Patriotic Public Display in late Eighteenth-Century Britain

Jones, Victoria Grace (2010)
M.Phil. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Abstract

James Gillray (1756 - 1815) produced maritime themed prints that were responses to Britain’s contemporary naval wars against revolutionary and Napoleonic France (1793-1815). Diverse visual representations, publications, theatre performances and the press informed Gillray and his audiences’ interpretations of the Navy, loyalist patriotism and emerging notions of national identity. This thesis shows that Gillray’s discursive position towards naval actualities, symbolism, heroic representation and monumental sculpture are evident in his work, particularly concerning the characters of the sailor Jack Tar, the officer Horatio Nelson, and the contemporary sculptural projects of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Naval Pillar. Through distortion of the representational resources of high art, Gillray derided official representations of naval heroism and the culture of patriotic public display within which they existed, attacking their idealism, socio-political exclusivity and links with loyalist propaganda and excess. This thesis interprets Gillray’s work as being indicative of his political ambivalence and critical attitude towards the establishment and cultural pretension. It is argued that Gillray’s oeuvre demonstrates his dialogical engagement with, and perceptive awareness and exploitation of, the relationships between, official and unofficial discourses. This thesis explains specific Gillray works in relation to their relationships with naval discourses, culminating in the first in-depth analysis of Gillray’s significant, yet previously overlooked, Design for a Naval Pillar, 1 February 1800.

Type of Work:M.Phil. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Clay, Richard
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:Department of Art History
Subjects:ND Painting
NC Drawing Design Illustration
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:616
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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