“Napoleon said ‘history is written by the winners’. He might also have said ‘And painted by the rich’. The result is a gross distortion of our past.”
The “Portrait of Heroes” collection is based on original artwork from the early nineteenth century, a period of massive growth and change in northern Europe as the industrial transformed the fabric of society. The original portraits depict rich, confident, strong human beings, suggesting a time of great abundance and health.
Classic art, especially when curated in national galleries and esteemed intuitions, is often presented as being representative of a time.
The reality though was often very different. During the early days of the Industrial Revolution a chronic lack of hygiene, a population boom, and a lack of knowledge of medicine, lead to fearsome epidemics of Cholera, Typhoid, and Smallpox; between 1800-1850 Tuberculosis alone killed one third of the population of Britain. At the same many were losing their jobs to mechanization, there were huge disparities of wealth, and violent outbreaks of civil unrest.
The Better Days exhibition is intended to question both our view of the past and how we represent ourselves in the present.
Were those really better days?
Medium: Acrylic paint painted over archival giclée
Paper: Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308gsm
Specials: Gold ink and pencil
Size: 56.0cm (w) x 70.0cm (h)
Signed and numbered