The inspirational genius of Germany

British art and Germanism, 1850–1939

Matthew C. Potter

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ISBN: 978-0-7190-8712-7
Subject Area: Art History
BIC Category: History of art & design styles: from c 1900 -
Published: May 2012
240 x 170 mm
320 pages
Publisher: Manchester University Press
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  • *The inspirational genius of Germany* explores the neglected issue of the cultural influence of Germany upon Britain between 1850 and 1939. While the impact on Britain of German Romanticism has been extensively mapped, the reception of the more ideologically problematic German culture of the later period has been neither fully explained or explored. After the 1848 revolutions, Germany experienced a period of political and economic growth which not only saw it achieving Unification in 1871 but also challenging the industrial and imperial supremacy of Britain at the dawn of the twentieth century.

    Matthew Potter uses images, art criticism, and the public writings and private notes of artists to reconstruct the intellectual history of Germanism during a period of heightened nationalism and political competition. Key case studies explore the changing shape of intellectual engagements with Germany. It examines the German experts who worked on the margins of the Pre-Raphaelite circle, the engagements of Victorian ‘academics’ including Frederic Leighton, G.F. Watts, Walter Crane and Hubert Herkomer as well as avant-gardists like the Vorticists, the reception of Arnold Böcklin and Wassily Kandinsky by the Britons during the dawn of modern art, and the last gasp of enthusiasm for German art that took place in defiance of the rise of Nazism in the 1930s.
    1. A new kind of Germanism: British artistic interest in Germany after Romanticism
    2. Pre-Raphaelite Germanism: Ford Madox Brown and his circle
    3. The twilight of the Nazarenes: Joseph Beavington Atkinson and British art-critical responses to Germany, 1850–86
    4. Lord Leighton: made in Germany?
    5. Blutgefühl and Bildung: Hubert Herkomer, Knight of Bavaria and the British empire
    6. Germanist Symbolism in Britain: G.F. Watts, Walter Crane and the reception of Arnold Böcklin
    7. Germanism repackaged: Kandinsky, Vorticism and the woodcut, 1909–18
    8. Art and Germanism in the shadow of the First World War, 1918–39

    Matthew C. Potter is a Senior Lecturer in Art and Design History at the University of Northumbria
    Potter has succeeded admirably in his stated aim: 'to bring to light the true importance of an international tradition that has been neglected in British art history for reasons of historiography and politics'. This is a vibrant and engrossing work.
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