Bill Brandt, Crowded Improvised Air Raid Shelter in Liverpool Street Tube Tunnel
“In the Same Boat”: British and American Visual Culture During the Second World War
May 8, 2015-May 9, 2015

Yale University
The Jeffrey Loria Center for the History of Art
190 York Street 

On December 8, 1941, immediately following the declaration of the American entry into World War II, President Roosevelt telegraphed Prime Minister Churchill, “Today all of us are in the same boat with you and the people of the empire and it is a ship which will not and cannot be sunk.” Held on the seventieth anniversary of V-E Day, this conference will investigate the textured relationship between wartime visual cultures of America and Britain, considering the cultural origins of the postwar political and economic bond which would come to be called the “special relationship,” and explore the various political and social pressures that shaped image-making in the two countries. This conference will focus on the visual cultural exchange between the two countries, identifying parallels between the way images and culture were politically mobilized and influenced by the social impacts of war itself. 

The keynote speakers for the conference are David Alan Mellor, University of Sussex, and Cécile Whiting, University of California at Irvine.

To register and view the complete schedule, please visit

This conference is made possible through support from the Terra Foundation for American Art. It is also generously sponsored by the Yale University Department of the History of Art, the Yale Center for British Art, the Edward J. and Dorothy Clarke Kempf Memorial Fund, and the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale.

Joshua Reynolds, "Jane Fleming, Later Countess of Harrington," 1778–79, oil on c
Portraiture as Interaction: The Spaces and Interfaces of the British Portrait
December 11, 2015-December 12, 2015

The Huntington, San Marino, California 

This two-day international symposium has been inspired by the important collections of British portraits at the Huntington Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art, and by an upsurge of scholarly interest in the interactive nature of portraiture—both in its intrinsic character and as a curatorial construct.

Portraiture implies an interaction between the sitter and the spectator. It often rehearses an interaction between two or more protagonists and regularly focuses on the interaction between the person(s) represented and his, her, or their surroundings. Portraits—of husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, friends, and colleagues—are often depicted by artists and arranged by curators so as to interact with each other in meaningful ways. As they are created, and once they are completed, portraits (and the figures they represent) interact with their settings: with the studio, the exhibition space, the domestic interior, the public building or square; and with the objects, people, and spaces found in those settings. The same portrait, or portraits of the same sitter, can also find themselves interacting with each other across different media—paint, print sculpture, and more.

Furthermore, curators are continually thinking about the ways in which the portraits they display—and the individuals these pictures portray—will relate with each other across and around a gallery. The Thornton Portrait Gallery at the Huntington and the galleries at the Yale Center for British Art exemplify portraiture's continuing forms of interaction: implied and actual, pictorial and physical, and formal and figural.

This symposium, which is jointly organized by the Yale Center for British Art, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, will use the rich collections at the Center and the Huntington and the different concepts of interaction outlined above as points of departure and return, in order to open up new approaches to the history and workings of British portraiture up to the present.