• ART HISTORY

Worlding on the Hudson: Frederic Church and Global Histories of Art

An article by Professor Mary Roberts in a special issue of the top-ranking journal Art History dedicated to 'British Art and the Global'

Detail from Pascal Coste, 'Collège Medreceh-i-Chah-Sultan-Hussein: Vestibule de l'entrée principale Ispahan', 1867

Art History, volume 45, no. 3 (June 2022): 518-44

Abstract: The ‘Persian’ interior of the American landscape painter Frederic Church is a place crowded with paintings, objects and architectural ornament orchestrated as an installation that the artist both accrued and designed over a thirty-year period. This regional orientalism, with its cosmopolitan claims and internationally networked cultural politics, is located outside Britain's geographic imperium but within its economic networks, unsettling the boundaries of our nationally circumscribed histories of art. Church's interior was informed by his own experience of travel within the frontiers of the Ottoman Empire, and was formed through a transatlantic web of British, French and American artists, dealers and collectors who were organizing and codifying Islamic art for Western consumers and audiences. But many of these objects that travelled across cultures brought with them a range of cultural narratives that only come into view if we expand the geographic scope of our art history beyond the transatlantic nexus to engage contemporaneous networks of state making and art making in the Islamicate world.

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