Home Subjects

a working group dedicated to the display of art in the private interior, c. 1715-1914


“I put historical Art out of the question of course, for alas! There’s no employment in it—nor are our houses, if there were a taste for it, adapted to receive large pictures, but for our comfort, where is it practiced nowadays, with success? …but in Portrait, Landscape, Seaviews, Home Subjects—animals, and in every branch for which there is a demand I am proud to say—and I am sure you will agree with me—we yield to no country.”

Richard Westmacott, 1834

Welcome to “Home Subjects,” a research working group which aims to illuminate the domestic display of art in Britain. Our goal is to examine the HOME as a place to view and exhibit works of art within the historical context of the long 19th century. We are seeking scholars whose work touches on this broad topic to join the conversation.

Though the quote from Richard Westmacott that headlines our page focuses on the display of painting, the parameters of this working group are much broader. The goal is to explore the display of art in all media, especially the decorative arts and their interaction with the “fine arts.” Domestic display also hinges on the related subjects of collecting, marketing, and even new developments in architecture, to name only a few of the directions this research could take.

“Home Subjects” was founded by Melinda McCurdy (The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA), Morna O’Neill (Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, and Anne Nellis Richter (Independent Scholar and part-time faculty, American University, Washington, DC).

“Home Subjects” has been sponsored by the Wake Forest University Humanities Institute with support made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this Web resource do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

If you are working on a subject that speaks to this topic in any way, please follow our blog, and add your comments, suggest related topics or recent publications, or offer new ideas to pursue.

We can be contacted at [email protected].