Names and Stories: Emilia Dilke and Victorian Culture

By Kali Israel | Go to book overview

7
RENAISSANCES

F. S. Pattison two-volume The Renaissance of Art in France ( 1879) was followed by a biocritical study in French, Claude Lorrain, Sa Vie et Ses Oeuvres in 1884; Pattison published at least a hundred signed articles and reviews between 1869 and 1884. Emilia Dilke wrote Art in the Modern State--on French art and the state under Louis XIV--and her four volumes on French art in the eighteenth century, covering painting, sculpture, engraving, drawing, architecture, furniture, and decoration, as well as essays, reviews, and contributions to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1 Pattison/ Dilke's works on French art extend from the fifteenth century through and beyond the Salon des Réfusés; Colin Eisler claimed, "To this day, no other scholar can be said to have been so profoundly cognizant of five hundred years of French art as this Englishwoman, who was largely self-educated in the fields of her professional activity." 2 Pattison/ Dilke's range is unnerving. Her work drew on source texts and scholarly works in many languages and historical knowledge of Italy, Germany, early Christianity, and ancient Greece. She routinely reviewed works in German and French, and according to Charles Dilke, read French, Latin, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Portugese, Dutch, and Provençal and was learning Swedish and Welsh before she died. 3 Her texts give little help to less knowledgeable readers; she rarely translated quotations from French or German. Eisler aptly describes The Renaissance of Art in France as written "utterly without compromise . . . for the reader without a mastery of the French language and considerable familiarity with the period and with art history in general." 4 In 1868, E. F. S. Pattison claimed or admitted, "'an author cannot be lively and amusing' when treating of the object of his life's labours; 'he is overburdened by the very fulness of his knowledge,'" and publishers and other critics must understand that "sound works [espe

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