John Burnet, British
Etching and engraving
Plate: 19 3/4 x 14 5/16 inches (50.2 x 36.4 cm) Sheet: 22 1/16 x 16 1/4 inches (56 x 41.3 cm)
The Muriel and Philip Berman Gift, acquired from the John S. Phillips bequest of 1876 to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, with funds contributed by Muriel and Philip Berman, gifts (by exchange) of Lisa Norris Elkins, Bryant W. Langston, Samuel S. White 3rd and Vera White, with additional funds contributed by John Howard McFadden, Jr., Thomas Skelton Harrison, and the Philip H. and A.S.W. Rosenbach Foundation, 1985
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This exhibition, featuring some fifty prints drawn from the Museum's collection, explores Britain's fascination with narrative art during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Using contemporary novels, poems, Shakespearean plays and even history books for inspiration, British artists became visual storytellers. They encouraged viewers to "read" their images by making every object and gesture within the picture an important element of the unfolding tale. Artists even abandoned traditional ways of making portraits and landscapes to meet the high demand for such plot-driven imagery.
Some of the engravings on display include those after Sir Joshua Reynolds's celebrated portrait of The Montgomery Sisters Decorating a Term of Hymen and David Wilkie's The Rabbit on the Wall. Also on exhibit is William Hogarth's innovative engraved tale The Harlot's Progress as well as original prints by William Blake and Samuel Palmer.
CuratorAndrea Fredericksen • Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow in the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs