Picturing Paradise in 19th Century British and North American Art: Past, Lost, Regained
A Special Issue of Religion and the Arts edited by Rachel Smith and James Romaine
The Association of Scholars of Christianity in the History of Art (ASCHA) and Religion and the Arts seek proposals for essays of new scholarship on the theme of “paradise” in 19th Century British and North American Art. Accepted essays will join papers presented at the February 2, 2016 ASCHA symposium: Picturing Paradise in 19th Century British and American Art: Past, Lost, Regained.
Paradise is a persistent and varied theme in 19th century North American and British art. It is often visualized through local, exotic, and even imagined landscapes, gardens, and plants. Drawing from the Bible’s first and last chapters (Genesis and Revelation, respectively), as well as authors such as Dante and Milton, artists interpreted “paradise” in different contexts. Some described the paradise of the past (the Garden of Eden), the present (the paradise “lost” after the Fall), or the paradise to be “regained “in the future (as the destination of the blessed soul). During a period of increasing industrialization and urbanization, foliated and landscape imagery found particular resonance as a means of drawing on a past and/or projecting a future paradise to address present concerns as artists explored spiritual and social perfection.
While the aspiration for paradise is common among a host of world religions, it is particularly prevalent in Christianity and in images influenced by that faith. Although the sublime and pastoral are often contrasted, both of these orientations are potential paths to paradise. Bridging such diverse movements as the Hudson River School and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, this use of garden imagery in the 19th century expresses a hope for personal and collective harmony.
Proposals of no more than 300 words should be submitted, with a cover letter and 2 page C.V. by February 1, 2017 to Dr. Rachel Hostetter Smith at email@example.com and Dr. James Romaine at firstname.lastname@example.org. Authors will be notified by mid-February. Final drafts of the essays are due May 1, 2017. Authors are responsible for clearing all rights to images for their essay.