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Unhappy History Painters: Academic Artists and the Impossible Genre

Date: 28 March 2023 (Tuesday)
Time: 5-5:45pm
Venue: CPD-LG.34, Centennial Campus, HKU
Speaker: Prof. Mark Ledbury (Power Professor of Art History and Visual Culture | Director of the Power Institute, Power Institute for Art & Visual Culture, The University of Sydney)


Why did History painting make painters miserable? We know that the theory and the system of old regime painting privileged History painters and made it part of the aspiration of generations of young artists. But many of these artists, some of enormous talent and application, lived constantly in fear and misery, failed to produce paintings on time, or otherwise just dropped out of the race. As part of my (rather overdue) study of History painting as lived experience for ancien-regime artists, critics and publics, this paper will explore the multiple anxieties that afflicted artists as they tried with varying success to come to terms with the genre of history painting and the pressures it exerted.

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