Browse Exhibits (3 total)

Gardens, Children's Literature and Imperialism

An exploration of the ways in which turn-of-the-century children's literature was concerned with, and fascinated by, the British national identity, gardens and colonialism.

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From Pastoral Vanity to Sublime Respect: Interpreting 19th Century Britain's Respect for Nature through Paintings of Arctic Landscapes

The British empire is widely considered the dominant global power of the 19th Century. After its defeat of Napolean, the nation's influence spanned almost the entire globe, but in pursuit of a Northwest Passage and further glory, the empire set its sights on one of the planet's last untamed regions: the Canadian Arctic. The endeavor captured the imagination of the British public, standing as a test of the empire's global hegemony, and it became a favorite subject for the period's landscape painters. Initial depictions framed the region in two distinct but related manners: 1) as pastoral landscape awaiting human influence and 2) as a hostile landscape requiring English civility. However, as numerous underprepared expeditions encountered failure in the region, the public's perspective shifted, leading to the rise of sublime paintings that viewed Arctic exploration as a futile enterprise and reflected an increased respect for natural power. British exploration in the far North stands as a unique instance where Western powers admitted defeat at the hands of nature--a sentiment of particular importance today as humans combat the increased ferocity of an artificially warming climate.

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