Correspondances: exchanges and tensions between art, theatre and opera in France, c.1750-1850



Correspondances: exchanges and tensions between art, theatre and opera in France, c.1750-1850

National Gallery, London, 26-27 March 2010 (in collaboration with the University of Nottingham: Institute for Research in Visual Culture (NIRVC) and Centre for Music on Stage and Screen (MOSS))

This conference will explore a rich field of interdisciplinary research, that of the relations between art, theatre and opera in France from the later 18C to the mid 19C. As key elements in Parisian cultural life, art, theatre and opera all underwent extensive changes during this period, adapting and responding to profound socio-political disruption and transformation from the Revolution to the Second Republic. Painting, theatre and opera all shared concerns with the representation of compelling narrative, and more specifically with choices regarding contemporary or historic subjects. One aspect of this dynamic situation was the highly permeable interface/threshold that existed between different media.

We aim:
. to map interchanges between stage(s) and canvas, and the role of imagery in stage productions;
. to identify intermediaries in transmitting design to and from the stage and painting;
. to analyse attitudes and assumptions regarding interplay between media in theoretical and critical writing;
. to assess the recoverability of the visual components of theatre and opera.

Major themes which unite the two art forms include:
. the representation of history
. the nature of spectacle and illusion
. narrative and temporality
. the role of criticism

The conference will complement a major exhibition at the National Gallery on Paul Delaroche, an artist whose imagery has, from the time of its creation, been closely associated with crossover between painting and the stage. Delegates will have the opportunity to participate in a private viewing to explore issues articulated during the conference.

Invited speakers include:
. Prof Stephen Bann, University of Bristol (also a curator of the exhibition)
. Prof Beth Wright, University of Texas at Arlington
. Prof Tom Grey, Stanford University
. Prof Mark Ledbury, The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
. Prof David Charlton, Royal Holloway, University of London

We welcome proposals for papers (30 mins), which might relate to the following topics:

'Le théâtral': virtue or vice?
Special effects
Audience and spectator
Representing history
Gesture and attitude
The role of genres: innovation and
Critics and criticism
Set and costume design
Performers and their iconography
Tableaux and temporality
Authenticity and illusion
Spectacle and excess

Abstracts of c.250 words should be sent to both conference organisers, <> and <> by **1 September 2009**.
Programme and full conference details will be available at: and

Dr Sarah Hibberd (Music Dept) and Prof Richard Wrigley (Art History Dept), University of Nottingham