Newcastle's first art exhibitions and the language of civic humanism

Paul Usherwood

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter looks at the way debates about the role of visual art in Britain in the early nineteenth century were couched in the language of eighteenth-century civic humanism. In so doing, it deploys archival research on the struggle for control of public art exhibitions in Newcastle at the time. What emerges is that a newly-assertive middle-class intelligentsia in the town viewed art exhibitions as an instrument of moral and intellectual improvement whereas the other interested party, resident artists, saw them chiefly as a show-case for their own work. Significantly, however, even the latter felt obliged to pay at least lip-service to the idea of art serving an educational purpose. It builds on Usherwood’s earlier research on early nineteenth-century provincial art for the catalogue essay for Art for Newcastle: Thomas Miles Richardson and the Newcastle Exhibitions, 1822-1843, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1984, and his chapter, ‘Art on the Margins: from Bewick to Baltic’ in R.Colls and B. Lancaster, A Modern History of Newcastle upon Tyne, Phillimore, 2001.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCreating and Consuming Culture in North-East England, 1660-1830
EditorsHelen Berry, Jeremy Gregory
Place of PublicationFarnham
Number of pages192
ISBN (Print)9780754606031
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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