Transient Painters, Traveling Canvases: Portraiture and Mobility in the British Atlantic, 1750-1780


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


McIntire Department of Art


This dissertation examines the paintings of portraitists working within the eighteenth-century British Atlantic world, demonstrating the impact of mobility on artistic practice and portraiture on identity construction. Considering a network of about ten portraitists, the canvases they produce, and the travel of both individuals and images throughout the British Atlantic in the mid eighteenth century, this study identifies a shift in the construction of artistic communities as artists take to sea. By considering portraits and conversation pieces across the Atlantic rim, the project reveals visual convergences (in empire-wide visual conventions) and divergences (between local idioms in various port cities) that illustrate the development of regional identities within imperial conventions.