A lecture that examines the ways in which the Industrial Revolution affected art and design, and how it was depicted in the paintings and objects of the late 18th and 19th centuries.
In 1709, in a small riverside town in Shropshire, a Quaker industrialist called Abraham Darby set up the Coalbrookdale Iron Foundry. His revolutionary new method of smelting iron ore would make him a pioneer of the Industrial Revolution. From the beautiful Iron Bridge across the river Severn, built by his grandson in 1776, to the majesty of the Crystal Palace, opened by Queen Victoria in 1851, new forms of technology created a world of factories, railways and mass production.
In this talk we’ll meet inventors, industrialists and designers like Josiah Wedgwood, Matthew Boulton, Thomas Telford and the Stephensons, whose products married design and modernity and became renowned across Europe. Through the paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries, we’ll see how new techniques affected design, and consider how mass production and the changing landscape affected life for rich and poor.
The apogee of this industrial age was the Crystal Palace exhibition of 1851. We’ll look at the building, its contents and the huge success of the Great Exhibition, as well as its legacy for art, design and architecture through the nineteenth century and beyond.