James Thomson's Picture Collection and British History Painting

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James Thomson (1700–48) has long been recognized as one of the most visually astute of British poets. He incorporated pictorially ways of seeing into his verse, and, in turn, had a considerable influence on landscape and genre painting. There is a sale catalogue of his goods from 1749: this catalogue lists his pictures (73 prints and 10 drawings), and states in which rooms of his house these were displayed. It has been possible to view the majority of these images, and to reconstruct the appearance of this collection. The essay considers the compilation of the collection; the inter-connectedness of its imagery; and the relationship of Thomson's pictures to his writings. The article argues that Thomson was more concerned with the development of the standards of British historical painting than those of landscape or genre art. A transcription of the catalogue of prints and drawings is provided as an appendix.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-151
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of the History of Collections
Issue number1
Early online date3 Dec 2010
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

Bibliographical note

10,000 words + 16 illustrations with a catalogue of Thomson's prints and drawings as an appendix.


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