At the height of the Napoleonic Wars, a new generation of painters led by the precociously talented David Wilkie took London's art world by storm. Their novel approach to the depiction of everyday life marked the beginning a trajectory that links the art of the Age of Revolution with the postmodern culture of today.
What emerged from the imagery of Wilkie and other early 19th-century British genre painters—among them William Mulready, Edward Bird, and the controversial watercolorist Thomas Heaphy—was a sense that common people were increasingly bound up with the exceptional events of history, that traditional boundaries between country and city were melting away, and that a more regularized and dynamic present was everywhere encroaching upon the customary patterns of the past.
Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
". . . fascinating. . . . While the book's narrow focus seems appropriate for specialized/graduate libraries, the essays in each of the six chapters address broader themes of 19th-century visual culture and provide exemplary visual and contextual analysis of standard, and, more often, lesser-known works."— Choice