NIRVCNottingham Institute for Research in Visual Culture

Correspondances: exchanges and tensions between art, theatre and opera in France, c.1750-1850

National Gallery, London, 26-27 March 2010

This conference explores a rich field of interdisciplinary research, that of the relations between art, theatre and opera in France from the later 18C to the mid 19C. As key elements in Parisian cultural life, art, theatre and opera all underwent extensive changes during this period, adapting and responding to profound socio-political disruption and transformation from the Revolution to the Second Republic. Painting, theatre and opera all shared concerns with the representation of compelling narrative, and more specifically with choices regarding contemporary or historic subjects. One aspect of this dynamic situation was the highly permeable interface/threshold that existed between different media.

We aim to:

  • map interchanges between stage(s) and canvas, and the role of imagery in stage productions;
  • identify intermediaries in transmitting design to and from the stage and painting;
  • analyse attitudes and assumptions regarding interplay between media in theoretical and critical writing;
  • assess the recoverability of the visual components of theatre and opera.

 Major themes which unite the two art forms include:

  • the representation of history
  • the nature of spectacle and illusion
  • narrative and temporality
  • the role of criticism

The conference complements a major exhibition at the National Gallery on Paul Delaroche, an artist whose imagery has, from the time of its creation, been closely associated with crossover between painting and the stage. Delegates have the opportunity to participate in a private viewing to explore issues articulated during the conference.

Invited speakers include:

  • Prof Stephen Bann, University of Bristol (also a curator of the exhibition)
  • Prof Beth Wright, University of Texas at Arlington
  • Prof Tom Grey, Stanford University
  • Prof Mark Ledbury, The Clarks Institute
  • Prof David Charlton, Royal Holloway, University of London

Conference organisers: Sarah Hibberd (Music, Nottingham) and Richard Wrigley (Art History, Nottingham)

Download: conference programme and abstracts

Sponsors: University of Nottingham, National Gallery, Royal Musical Association, Music & Letters Trust



Nottingham Institute for Research in Visual Culture

University of Nottingham
Lakeside Arts Centre
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 3318
fax: +44 (0)115 846 7778