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Session Chair: John Lowrey      

Kirsty Haslam (University of Aberdeen) 

An Active Engagement: The Nine Worthies in North-east Scotland

The Nine Worthies were internationally recognised chivalric exemplars who appeared frequently in medieval chivalric literature and visual culture in Europe. There was a well-established tradition as to the identity of these nine men as well as a recognition that regional variations or additions were common. In Scotland, notable examples of engagement with the Nine Worthies tradition include two mid-fifteenth century literary sources, the Buik of Alexander and ‘The Ballet of the Nine Nobles’. This paper, however, aims to highlight two visual representations of the tradition, both from the early seventeenth century, and surviving in castles in Aberdeenshire; a painted ceiling at Crathes Castle and a series of carved wooden panels at Craigston Castle. By comparing the two schemes and situating them within their literary and visual context the high level of active engagement with the Nine Worthies tradition will be highlighted. This will demonstrate not only the continuing relevance of the Nine Worthies for the castle owners into the early modern period but the manner in which they could be adapted to highlight a particularly Scottish adaption of the tradition, contributing to the situating of Scotland within a wider Continental context.

Sydney Ayers (University of Edinburgh)  

Adam Revival Furniture at International Exhibitions in 1862, 1867, and 1876

The work of eighteenth-century British architect Robert Adam—termed the Adam Style—became immensely popular in Britain in the second half of the eighteenth century. After falling ‘out of fashion’ in the first half of the nineteenth century, the Adam Style experienced a revival of interest that began in the 1860s—which can be designated the Adam Revival or the Neo-Adam Style. Yet despite Adam being an architect, this rebirth began through furniture and other design items such as fabrics, wallpapers, ceramic tiles and further material objects. London-based furniture makers Wright and Mansfield are the first-known proponents of the Adam Revival; they exhibited their furniture pieces at International Exhibitions in London in 1862, Paris in 1867, and Philadelphia in 1876.

Thus this paper will explore the rise of the Adam Revival through the display of Wright and Mansfield’s Neo-Adam Style furniture at International Exhibitions in the second half of the nineteenth century. In these highly nation-focused environments, it is possible to show how the Neo-Adam Style is endorsed and promoted specifically as a way to counter French and continental design and its influences—by encouraging the contemporary desire for British design. In this sense, this study aligns with Dana Arnold’s assertion that aesthetics ‘re-presented and reconstructed the notion of a national identity.’ This chapter shows how, through the display of Neo-Adam furniture at International Exhibitions between 1862 and 1876, the earliest description and presentation of the Adam Revival was manipulated to promote ideas of Englishness and nationalism.