The Art of the Illustrated Book (Victoria and Albert Museum)
The artist’s workplace has always been an imaginary as well as an actual location, an idealized utopia as well as the domain of dirty, back-breaking work. Written descriptions, paintings, prints and even photographs of the artist’s atelier distort as much as they document. This pioneering cultural history charts the myth and reality of the creative space from Ancient Greece to the present day.
Tracing a history that extends far beyond the bohemian, romantic and renaissance cults of the artist, each chapter focuses on key developments of the studio space as seen in a variety of familiar and unfamiliar images. Mythical and divine makers, and some amateurs, are included, and so too are craftspeople – workers in metal and wood, potters, illuminators, weavers, embroiderers and architects to name a few. Each carefully chosen example is placed within a cultural and political context, with the aim of correcting the historical imbalance that has long overlooked the many artisans who collaborated with artists. Leading authority James Hall also extends the discussion to the artist’s museum and the artist’s house, as well plein air painting and the development of portable studios.
Julius Bryant is the Keeper of the Word and Image Department at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. He is responsible for the museum's National Art Library, a major public reference library for the fine and decorative arts.