Art in Context | Extra-Illustration and the British Historical Imagination, ca. 1660–1850

Free admission
About this program

Extra-illustration was a practice that developed in the later eighteenth century as a means by which collectors added imagery (most often prints, but sometimes manuscripts, objects, or original artworks) to existing books. In this talk, Brian Cowan will examine the practice of extra-illustration as a means of understanding the varieties of British historical imagination in the long eighteenth century. His project explores the relationships between political history, secret history, and biography as these genres developed over the course of the long eighteenth century in Britain.

About Brian Cowan

Brian Cowan is an associate professor of history at McGill University. He has published widely on early modern British and European history and is a founding member and inaugural president of the board for the international research group devoted to the history of sociability in the long eighteenth century. This group recently launched DIGIT.EN.S, an online encyclopedia of the history of sociability. Cowan’s publications include The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse (2005), The State Trial of Doctor Henry Sacheverell (2012), and as a member of the twenty-two-person “multigraph collective,” Interacting with Print: Elements of Reading in the Era of Print Saturation (2018). His edited collection on The Cultural History of Fame in the Age of Enlightenment is forthcoming from Bloomsbury Academic, and he is currently editing (with Valerie Capdeville) The Oxford Handbook of the History of the European Enlightenment for Oxford University Press.


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Art in Context

Presented by faculty, staff, Student Guides, and Visiting Scholars, these talks focus on a particular work of art—often in the museum’s collections or special exhibitions—through an in-depth look at its style, subject matter, technique, or time period.

Top image
Edward Hyde Clarendon, The history of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England begun in the year 1641: with the precedent passages, and actions, that contributed thereunto, and the happy end, and conclusion thereof by the king's blessed restoration and return upon the 29th of May, in the year 1660, Oxford: Printed at the Theater, 1702–4