Making the Modern Artist Culture, Class and Art-Educational Opportunity in Romantic Britain Martin Myrone

Publication date:
22 Sep 2020
Paul Mellon Centre
288 pages: 267 x 216mm
200 color + b-w illus.
Sales territories:

Exploring the myths and realities of the origins of the “modern artist” in Britain

The artist has been a privileged figure in the modern age, embodying ideals of personal and political freedom and self-fulfillment. Does it matter who gets to be an artist? And do our deeply held beliefs stand up to scrutiny? Making the Modern Artist gets to the root of these questions by exploring the historical genesis of the figure of the artist. Based on an unprecedented biographical survey of almost 1,800 students at the Royal Academy of Arts in London between 1769 and 1830, the book reveals hidden stories about family origins, personal networks, and patterns of opportunity and social mobility. Locating the emergence of the “modern artist” in the crucible of Romantic Britain, rather than in 19th-century Paris or 20th-century New York, it reconnects the story of art with the advance of capitalism and demonstrates surprising continuities between liberal individualism and state formation, our dreams of personal freedom, and the social suffering characteristic of the modern era.

Martin Myrone is senior curator of pre-1800 British art at Tate Britain, London.

“The subject matter is worthwhile and there are plenty of fascinating material in the best passages.”—Alexander Adams, The Salisbury Review

“This richly illustrated volume is a valuable contribution to the story of the history of art education. Artists are shown as living social beings and that no artwork can be detached from the conditions of its making.”—William Shipley Group for RSA History Bulletin