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      Review (monograph)
      Reviews in History
      Author (Review)
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      Language (Monograph)
      Author (Monograph)
      The Inspirational Genius of Germany
      British Art and Germanism, 1850-1939
      Year of publication
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      Manchester University Press
      Number of pages
      XI, 322
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      Art History
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      19th century, 1900 - 1919, 1920 - 1929, 1930 - 1939
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      Germany, Great Britain
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      May 13, 2013
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Matthew Potter: The Inspirational Genius of Germany. British Art and Germanism, 1850-1939 (reviewed by Richard Scully)

As Jan Rüger suggested in his 2011 review article ‘Revisiting the Anglo-German antagonism’, since 2000 almost every aspect of the history of Anglo-German relations has been reassessed and re-examined as a story not of increasing and inevitable antagonism, but of a much more complex process. Dozens of articles, monographs and dissertations have appeared to challenge Paul Kennedy’s influential Rise of the Anglo-German Antagonism, and to show how Britons did not conceive of Germany and the Germans as ‘the Other’ until comparatively late, and continued to hold Germany in very high regard well into moments of supposed diplomatic or military antagonism.(1) As such, Rüger (rather flippantly) claimed that we now know ‘almost everything one could ever want to know about Anglo-German bakers and butchers, industrialists and engineers, professors and students, gymnasts and footballers, missionaries and musicians, hairdressers and waiters, bankers and managers, urban planners and architects, printers and publishers, poets and novelists’.(2)

To that list, Matthew C. Potter has added artists and works of art. He has therefore plugged one of the few remaining gaps in the literature, and has done so in excellent style, with a very good sense of the broader intellectual history of his chosen period. However, in producing this admirable and entertaining work, Potter has essentially been working in parallel to the current trends in the historiography of Anglo-German relations identified by Rüger, rather than taking advantage of these to produce a more holistic history. Well-informed on the current state of art historiography – and framing his book in those terms – beyond that, Potter’s bibliography is limited to the much older literature on British relations with Germany and the Germans in the chosen time-period. Works by Rosemary Ashton and Paul Kennedy (both first published in 1980) are taken as authoritative, despite the quite enormous shifts in the field since those foundational texts appeared over three decades ago. This does not overly detract from what Potter has produced, but it does make one wonder what he might have been able to achieve had he been more aware of work outside the confines of his ‘home’ discipline.

Potter begins with a simple, but very persuasive, premise; the kind of thesis which has animated so much of the recent literature on Anglo-German relations. This is that the turmoil of the two world wars of the 20th century (to which Potter adds the ‘third’ – the Cold War) has blinded artists and art-historians to the sheer importance of the Anglo-German connections that existed before that period of antagonism, and particularly in the 19th century. In a well-crafted and critical appreciation of the historiography, he points to the way Germany and German art were written out of the mainstream story of artistic development in the modern period, in much the same way that the Victorians were deemed to be ‘kitsch’ (p. 2) rather than significant. He pins this deliberate neglect of German art on a few notable critics and historians of the mid-century – notably Clement Greenberg and Roger Fry – but also perceives the manner in which this dominant way of thinking has been problematised and destabilised by scholars of more recent times (Elizabeth Prettejohn and Paul Barlow). Potter takes up the methods discerned by these more recent scholars and extends them into a constructive historical project: simultaneously addressing the neglect of German art and aesthetic ideas, rather than simply pointing out this neglect and the reasons for it.

What is most impressive about this introductory chapter is the way Potter situates his appreciation of art history within the wider political, diplomatic, and intellectual history of Anglo-German interactions. As such, the reader is piloted through the various keynotes of Anglo-German intellectual history, with Potter’s skilled navigation of German Idealism, British periodical culture, Victorian empiricism and positivism, intermingling with the more solidly artistic of his concerns. This holistic approach is both useful to the specialist art-historian, and an important means by which non-expert readers can gain an entree into the well-established intellectual company through which Potter moves so effortlessly. A brief but comprehensive foray into the importance of Thomas Carlyle, G. H. Lewes and George Eliot moves seamlessly into discussion of the prejudices which informed Victorian-era reception of German thought and art, before entering just as seamlessly into a discussion of what might be called ‘the peculiarities of German history’, including an art-historical appreciation of the Sonderweg and its detractors (p. 8 ff). That this debate – largely and to date confined to appreciations of socio-political and military understandings of German history – should be observed from the perspective of art and the reception of art (each so quintessentially bourgeois) seems eminently reasonable and indeed refreshing. While Potter accepts that the exaggerations of the Sonderweg have rightly been ‘revised away’ (p. 10) – and his key assumption is that Germany and Britain had much more in common in socio-political terms in the 19th century than many would care to admit – he nevertheless pinpoints many of the ‘symptoms’ of the ‘special path to modernity’ as still being of worth to the art historian.

It is from this point that he proceeds to observe several case-studies in the appreciation and reception of German art in Britain, occupying seven substantive chapters, beginning with the pre-Raphaelites and concluding with the Weimar period. Each chapter therefore stands alone as a self-contained work of scholarship, as well as a part of the overall picture of British artistic engagement with Germany, 1850–1939. Short linking sentences and phrases keep the flow of the book together, though these would perhaps have been better positioned not at the end of each chapter (as they are), but at the beginning of the succeeding chapter. Potter pursues something of a biographical approach by focusing attention on one or two major artists or movements, which is useful, but perhaps unnecessarily circumscribes his dealings with each given period, and creates a periodisation that is perhaps a little too neat. But justifying this arrangement on his own terms – ‘broadly sequential’ (p. 13) – Potter pursues his task very well in each case. That there is no overarching conclusion, and that broad conclusions are therefore squeezed into the last few paragraphs of chapter eight, is a disappointment. It would have been useful to tie matters together in a more concerted fashion, not least with a view to Potter signposting the avenues for future exploration, and encouraging further analysis of those questions still remaining, self-evident though these may be to the author.

The first substantive chapter (chapter two) continues the strengths of the introductory survey, and is a good indicator of the approach of the subsequent case-studies. Potter begins with a strong, if brief, investigation of the subject in context, with Ford Madox Brown’s 1840s emergence placed firmly within the social and political environment of the ‘Young England’ (1842–7) and Young Germany (1830–48) movements. A historiographical challenge to William Holman Hunt’s version of Brown follows (repositioning Brown as a central, rather than peripheral, influence on the pre-Raphaelites), interspersed with reflections on the secular-religious interplay of the mid-to-late 19th century. Potter’s reflective style – asking leading rhetorical questions at the head of some paragraphs – is initially somewhat off-putting. This is particularly the case when Potter openly admits to a need to ‘re-orientate the argument slightly’, when already a third of the way through his chapter, but the reasoning that follows from such questions and reassessments is first-class, particularly when there is a need to reconcile the idealist and realist tendencies that Potter discerns in an artist like Brown (whom Potter refers to as ‘Madox Brown’, rather than simply ‘Brown’, despite the latter being more correct). The reader feels more a part of a free-form conversation; an exploration of different readings, rather than the subject of an authorial and authoritative lecture on art history. Taking the story beyond simply Brown’s importance, and dealing with those he influenced – such as William Bell Scott and Franz Hueffer – leads to some fascinating insights and asides. The ‘intimate character sketch of the future Kaiser Wilhelm II’ given to Joseph Noel Paton in 1862 (p. 41) is one such insight, which serve to make the chapter of broader interest to other kinds of scholar, not merely the art historian.

Potter moves on from the Ford Madox Brown context of Germanism into a very strong chapter three indeed. This focuses on the key role played by art critic Joseph Beavington Atkinson, who wrote for the Art Journal and Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, in the important 1856–86 period. The importance of periodical culture in the spreading of Germanist ideals and fashions – Atkinson was the foil to John Ruskin, who was ambivalent about, or even opposed to, Germanism – is well-established by Potter. Indeed it is in chapter three that Potter revisits in more detail many of the interpretive and historical contexts he established in his introductory chapter, but uses them to shed light on Atkinson as a largely forgotten, but extremely important critic in his own right. Indeed, Atkinson pursued a single-minded (and largely single-handed) ‘mission to educate Britain in German art’ (p. 69), launching a Samuel-Johnson-esque project on the lives of the chief German artists (for him) of recent times. These appeared in the Art Journal in 1865, and laid the foundations for Atkinson’s Schools of Modern Art in Germany, of 1880, as well as a more extended biography of Johann Friedrich Overbeck, in 1882 (which as Potter notes, remains the only English-language monograph on Overbeck to date). This chapter continues Potter’s trend of seamlessly integrating intellectual, political, and other strands of history within the framework of his subject. The frequent allusion to important cultural milestones – such as the Munich exhibitions, the growing complexity of German art in the wake of Unification, and the xenophobia and Francophobia of many in the German art world – add many layers to a rich portrait of a man in tune with his times.

Chapter four asks the rather bald question: ‘Lord Leighton: Made in Germany?’, which nevertheless leads into a deep and interesting analysis of German influence on Britain’s pre-eminent artistic arbiter of the late Victorian period. Again, Potter is picking up on another of the historiographical problems signalled in his introduction: the general dismissal (until recently) of the Victorian academic tradition as unimportant or unworthy. Potter is able to defend the epitome of Victorianism against his critics by not only focusing on Leighton himself, but treating his Addresses seriously (p. 118 ff.) for probably the first time. Drawing out the Idealist references made in those Addresses, Potter firmly locates Leighton’s education and emerging interests in the intellectual and cultural world established in his preceding two chapters, though providing a self-contained exploration of Leighton’s specific experiences. The same effortless integration of the political (e.g. the 1848 Revolution in Frankfurt, where Leighton was studying) with the artistic (realism versus allegory) is evident here. The same rich evocation of a Germanist culture in British circles animates this chapter as it does the preceding ones, and Potter’s linking of Leighton with George Eliot – not merely as illustrator of the latter’s Romola (1862–3), but as a kindred spirit and friend (p. 110) – is a particularly compelling fusion of Potter’s artistic subject-matter and the broader (and better-known) intellectual and literary context. Leighton’s musicality (p. 155) – which concept was inextricably linked to Germany in the 19th century – is also dealt with here, bringing yet another cultural sphere into close analysis, and which is handled very well by the non-expert Potter. Our understanding of Leighton’s spiritual, emotional, and intellectual life as a Germanist is therefore confirmed by Potter, and extended to an admirable degree.

The centrality of Bavaria to what Britons imagined ‘Germany’ to be is handled in chapter five, the focus of which is Hubert Herkomer (1849–1914). This man was, in Potter’s mind, ‘the ultimate personification of late nineteenth-century Anglo-German artistic relationships’ (p. 144), and given his active working life spanned the 1860s to 1914 – the crucial period of Anglo-German relations – it is difficult to argue against this assertion. Potter makes Herkomer’s engagement with high politics – and his willingness to paint portraits of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the managerial board of Krupp –something of a focus of the later part of the chapter (pp. 162–3 ff.), and this does indeed illustrate the artist’s interconnection with the rising Anglo-German tensions late in the century. Even without this link, Herkomer’s life-story is fascinating to the uninitiated (this reviewer having heard little of him), and Potter again deploys his cultural and political knowledge to explore how Herkomer was equally preoccupied with ‘the nature of beauty’ as well as national identity (p. 154). That Herkomer was – like so many in the British art world of the late 19th century – also an artist of black and white (he worked for The Graphic) is also a means by which Potter is able to firmly position him as a representative figure. In the discussion of etching, engraving, and other forms of black and white art, Potter is also able to draw out the issue of modernism and anti-modernism that characterised Herkomer’s ideas about art; though perhaps Potter here misses an opportunity to tie in his broader understanding of the Sonderweg debate. Similarly, Potter’s focus on Herkomer’s mixture of German Blutgefühl and English Bildung calls to mind another, cultural exploration of the same issues in the same period which is absent from Potter’s discussion: E. M. Forster’s Howards End. A re-reading of Herkomer’s life with that great work in mind would undoubtedly serve very well Potter’s desire to explore the individual within his cultural, political and artistic context.

One is struck again at the beginning of chapter six by the way that Potter’s individual case-studies fit so well together, and the excellent linkage between them provided in his introduction. Again he returns to a historiographical theme familiar from the introduction: the way the use of French (or Belgian) art historical models fail to fully encompass the British engagement with Continental art, and how essential it is to put Germany back into the story (p. 175). In this case, it is British and German Symbolism that is Potter’s focus. The reception of Arnold Böcklin (a Swiss-German), and his anti-modern response to modernity and modernism, is taken as a particularly important cultural moment that sat well with Victorian Britain’s reassessment of classical myth and scholarship. Moreover, in exploring the chief ‘receivers’ of Böcklin in Britain – Walter Crane and G. F. Watts – Potter is able to pursue something missing from his previous chapters, which is the return influence of British artists on Germany. Crane’s cover illustration for the important liberal journal Jugend (p. 199) is a fine illustration of ‘the international appeal of the British arts and crafts aesthetic’ merging with the local German tradition of graphic arts and illustration (p. 198). Just as in the analysis of Herkomer, Potter is also able in his detailing of Crane and Watts to show the interconnection between art and high politics. The difficulty in accepting Germanism that arose from Germany’s own commercial and military challenge to Britain in the 1890s is overplayed by Potter (p. 202 ff.), who does not seem to be aware of the broader historical scholarship that supports his own approach.(3) It is therefore perhaps a little ironic that in penning such a clear challenge to the Kennedy grand narrative of a rise in Anglo-German antagonism, he then relies on Kennedy (and the rather simplistic popular historian Robert K. Massie, among others) (p.216). Nonetheless, Böcklin’s reception does reveal that high politics and diplomacy did colour even critical reception of a key artist, and this is in keeping with Potter’s overall historiographical point.

Given the conclusion of chapter six, it is therefore more encouraging to see Potter begin chapter seven with a sounder grasp of the cultural-diplomatic interplay between Britain and Germany around the turn of the 20th century. Despite diplomatic antagonism (or at least, ambivalence), ‘artistic connections continued’ between Britain and Germany (p. 219), and for Potter, the person of Wassily Kandinsky is the best illustration of this. That Germanism was still possible even down to the eruption of 1914, is characterised as a form of ‘repackaging’ by Potter, evident in the Burlington Magazine and other publications, even as Anglo-German competition ‘encouraged rather than prevented Germanism’ (p. 222). Potter calls this ‘perverse’, but again it is a lack of familiarity with the broader historiographical (as opposed to art-historiographical, on which he is very strong) trends in Anglo-German relations of recent years, that leads him to this conclusion. Despite this relative ignorance, he nevertheless pursues here the same very strong integration of intellectual, political, and art history that is evident in all his chapters. Discussions of Schopenahuer’s and Nietzsche’s reception in Britain (p. 224 ff.), and the way ‘[a]artistic Germanism was part of a wider cultural enthusiasm for Germany’ (p. 227) are excellent, with key Germanist connections being discerned in literature as well as art-criticism. It is interesting to see Potter eschew 1914 as an absolute caesura, and more of a moment of ‘slippage’, as some ‘good’ Germanism survived, while associations with the ‘bad’ of Prussian militarism did not (p. 246). Thereafter, the First World War ‘inhibited the free flow of Germanism’ which had been evident in the previous half-century or more (p. 252).

Potter concludes his collection of case-studies by taking the story of British artistic Germanism past the upheavals of 1914–18 and observing how total war and the deliberate provocation of anti-German hatreds ‘failed to enforce a moratorium on Germanism’ (p. 260). In this, Potter again confirms what is already known from the parallel historiography of Anglo-German relations, and it is hoped that some future cross-fertilization with the likes of Colin Storer or Angela Schwarz will shed even more light on the 1918–39 period.(4) The important exchanges that were newly- or re-established in this period – such as the Anglo-German Club (1931) – are highlighted as important means of maintaining artistic and cultural interplay between Britain and Germany, and Potter also spends some time dealing with the unfortunate flirtation of the likes of Wyndham Lewis with ‘the German ideology’: National Socialism. The eventual revulsion felt by Britons when confronted with Nazism and its anti-Semitic character did result in a retreat from unfettered Germanism, but Potter points out that ‘one last defiant gasp’ (p. 272) of enthusiasm for German art did occur, at the very end-point of this study: the Exhibition of Twentieth-Century German Art, in London (1938). Here, Potter completes his historiographical reappraisal, by challenging the consensus that the exhibition was not well-received, or if it was, that this was owing to an officially-sanctioned policy of Appeasement that extended to the art world. In fact, he shows that the exhibition was ‘a positive response to a specific type of German culture that was seen to be spiritually enriching’ (p. 280). It is gratifying to see a book that has been dedicated to the study of that positive British attitude to Germany, conclude on such a note.

It is also gratifying to encounter fully 50 figures (in black and white) throughout the book, and to find that these are not merely illustrations, but integral parts of the analysis. That these include the key painted and etched works of art, alongside such illuminating sketches and cartoons as John Hipkins’s ‘Mr Ford Madox Brown and Dr Hüffer (St Patrick’s Day, 1886)’ (p. 35), and F. Goedecker’s Vanity Fair portrait of Hubert Herkomer (p. 170) is a further testament to Potter’s breadth of scholarship, and ability to see beyond the still-present prejudice of his field of ‘High’ against ‘low’ art. Perhaps my only criticism here is in relation to the positioning of some of the images in relation to the text where they are discussed (always a perennial problem) and the lack of bolded text to assist the reader in identifying which artworks are included as ‘figure 31’, ‘32’, etc...).

Potter has succeeded admirably in his stated aim: ‘to bring to light the true importance of an international tradition that has been neglected in British art history for reasons of historiography and politics’ (p. 14). A vibrant and engrossing work, it is hoped that in future a fuller engagement with his parallel historiographical fellow-travellers will assist in developing and integrating British artistic Germanism into the broader historical trends of recent years.



1. Jan Rüger, ‘Revisiting the Anglo-German antagonism’, The Journal of Modern History, 83, 3 (September 2011), 579–617.

2. Rüger, ‘Revisiting the Anglo-German antagonism’, 584.

3. Even P. E. Firchow’s excellent, though now somewhat out-dated, The Death of the German Cousin: Variations on a Literary Stereotype (London, 1986), does not feature in his bibliography. More recent works include: John Ramsden, Don’t Mention the War: The British and the Germans since 1890 (London, 2006); Thomas Weber, Our Friend ‘The Enemy’: Elite Education in Britain and Germany Before World War I (Stanford, CA, 2008); Petra Rau, English Modernism, National Identity and the Germans, 1890–1950 (Farnham, 2009). Some are, admittedly, too recent for Potter to have been aware of: Philip Oltermann, Keeping Up With the Germans: A History of Anglo-German Encounters (London, 2012); Richard Scully, British Images of Germany: Admiration, Antagnonism & Ambivalence, 1860–1914 (Basingstoke, 2012).

4. Colin Storer, Britain and the Weimar Republic: The History of a Cultural Relationship (London, 2010); Angela Schwarz, Die Reise ins Dritte Reich. Britische Augenzeugen im nationalsozialistischen Deutschland 1933–1939 (Göttingen, 1993).


Author's Response

Matthew Potter

I would like to thank Dr Richard Scully for providing a thought-provoking review of The Inspirational Genius of Germany: British art and Germanism, 1850–1938. This is pleasing as it was my conscious intention to engage with a ‘broad church’ of historians interested in the intersection of cultural histories with political, social and intellectual contexts. As an interdisciplinary topic of study the history of art attracts individuals who received their undergraduate training in a multitude of fields. Having undertaken my undergraduate studies in the field of Modern History, I believe this disciplinary coding informs the way I address the history of art – looking to contextual historical factors to explain the reception of artefacts at specific moments.

There is a sense in which the approaches of Scully and myself to my book and how it relates to the writing of the history of Germanism (the study of German culture) differ and I think it is worthwhile considering the reasons for our varying positions. Hopefully without polarising too extremely, Scully advocates the virtues of a more substantial review of Germanism and its cultural history while I am concerned to address with my monograph the specific area of British artistic reception. That Germanist studies seem to be enjoying something of a Renaissance recently is very welcome. Scully’s review does well to highlight the wealth and scope of new scholarship in the history of Germanism that has been produced in the last decade or so. In addition to the texts he refers to, other notable examples of excellent research include the sustained scholarship of individuals like Christiane Eisenberg, Panikos Panayi, and Rudolf Muhs working on issues of sporting, religious, economic and migration histories.(1) In his review Scully refers to Dr Jan Rüger’s digest of 23 books published since 2000 on aspects of Anglo-German relations (some of which are specifically on Germanist topics). Rüger’s 40-page article is an admirable assimilation of a variety of contrasting approaches and subject specialities. It also serves to demonstrate the logistical difficulties facing any historian attempting to take stock of the general field of the history of Germanism; within the context of providing a literary review in a monograph containing new research these difficulties are further compounded. As an aside, it is also noticeable that while art may gain brief mention in the works Rüger reviewed, the matter of artistic transfer was not a central topic for any of these books.(2) While broader and more encyclopaedic accounts of Germanism touching on such areas are welcome and represent an admirable objective, such ambitions are surely better served through the medium of edited collections and there have been worthy examples of such.(3)

Much of the latest available material, as Scully acknowledges, has appeared too recently for inclusion within The Inspirational Genius of Germany but I would like to support his suggestions for such reading. Nevertheless without dismissing the excellent value of this scholarship I had what I believe to be valid reasons for limiting my engagement with such material in my book; ‘awareness’ of scholarship and editorial selectivity are distinct factors. In order to have a chance of tracing developments over a crucial period of 90 years and to describe patterns emerging in the artistic realms of Germanist study it was necessary to rigorously restrict the parameters of the book to areas where the history of art connected most pertinently with political, social and other cultural fields. As all scholars will recognise, composing a monographic study of any kind is ultimately a matter of selection or as Mark Twain put it more pithily: ‘A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it’.(4) I am not the person to judge the overall success of my book but I do think that the choice to exclude a fuller account of the state of the field of Germanist studies in history per se was logically justified. It offered a singular strategic advantage in securing crucial space that could be profitably employed in engaging thoroughly with my new research on the British artistic reception of German culture, a topic never before given substantive treatment for the period between 1850 and 1939.

In my book I chose to draw attention to this distinct focus from the start, for as I state in my introduction:

This book provides a history of the reception of German ideas on art and culture by British artists and critics who moved in closely allied social and professional circles: it is not primarily a study of German ideas or art in themselves, but rather an account of the historical mediation of these works through their treatment, translation and transformation by English-speaking commentators as manifest in their own art forms, letters, diary entries and public discourse (p. 1).

To have augmented or extended my frame or depth of analysis of Germanist historiography into the realms of British business, education, literature, politics, sports, etc., would have only been admissible where these touched upon empirical facts of Anglo-German artistic relations. For example, the portrait of the managers of Krupps that Hubert Herkomer was commissioned to produce (pp. 162–3) relies not upon Anglo-German business connections or affinities but the artist’s personal links with and general reputation within his birth land in the early 20th century. I am pleased that Scully notes that my own work displays ‘critical appreciation of the historiography’ relevant to its discussion and its conclusions parallel the findings evident in complementary fields.

I set out the general principles that informed my approach in chapter one – providing the orientation for the work in terms of its historiographical engagement, theoretical positioning, and the kind of material that would receive priority. Within this the history of Germanism (again a sub-section of more general histories of Anglo-German relations) necessarily lies alongside other key ingredients which included: the reasons for art historical neglect of German influences on Britain after the Second World War; the definition of particular features of Germanism within artistic and aesthetic parameters; the recognition that whilst largely an elitist concern, there were popular avenues for Germanism in the artistic affairs of Britons; and the observation of key patterns in artistic Germanism in Britain for the 90-year period under survey. It is gratifying to read that Scully believes, regardless of some misgivings over my personal representation of the historiography of Germanism, that my book succeeds in sounding ‘various keynotes of Anglo-German intellectual history’.

The necessity of covering the key texts for Germanism for an art historical audience requires discretion: it still seems sensible to me to have highlighted the key foundational texts produced in the academic studies of the last quarter of the 20th century not just in art history, such as William Vaughan’s German Romanticism and English Art, but also those in allied fields of cultural history, such as Rosemary Ashton’s The German Idea: Four English Writers and the Reception of German Thought, 1800–1860 and Little Germany: Exile and Asylum in Victorian England, as well as the broader historical engagement of D. Blackbourn and G. Eley, editors of The Peculiarities of German History: Bourgeois Society and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Germany.(5) These are necessary citations as seminal works – informing the parameters of subsequent scholarship on Germanist history – and reference to these were intended to be seen as ‘foundational’ rather than as ‘authoritative’.

Scully’s systematic and thoughtful summaries of the chapters in the book are appreciated. There are only a few points that might require clarification: it seems that there are no hard or fast rules for the usage of varieties of Ford Madox Brown’s name – despite the modern fashion to refer to the artist as simply Brown, my use of ‘Madox Brown’ was both in deference to common Victorian nomenclature (6) and furthermore in order to differentiate the artist from the philosophical writer Thomas Brown (p. 8) and the art historian Gerard Baldwin Brown (although the latter was ultimately cut from the manuscript for reasons of space); the rhetorical gambit regarding Leighton being potentially ‘made in Germany’ is G. D. Leslie’s 1914 invention not mine (p. 93); and unfortunately the formatting of the images was a question of design – in order to ensure that the majority of the images could be made available to the best visual scrutiny it often meant these would have to be given whole pages to themselves and thus removed from an intimate relationship with the text. Mindful of these challenges I am grateful to the production team at Manchester who did an excellent job in producing a handsome design for the book for which I take no credit.

Scully’s comment regarding the absence of a conclusion is another area I feel is dependent on personal preference. I wished to avoid the pitfall of over-speculation that often accompanies short concluding chapters that make excursions into what happened next, why and what potential significance there was to these phenomena. Holding back from such conjecture may perhaps be academically mean-spirited, denying as it does valuable grist to the academic mill, but once again space-saving arguments were ultimately decisive. Additionally the outbreak of the Second World War represented to me a natural bookend to the material I had covered without the need of a conclusion because 1939 did not represent a climax of energies and activities but rather the opposite with its abrupt negation of these dynamic forces. I had also used chapter one as the forum for synoptic analysis of patterns and themes to be addressed and did not wish to revisit these.

In closing, I still believe that to attempt a history of the reception of German art and artistic ideas over the 1850–1939 period in Britain is a sufficiently ambitious remit for a book. I hope I was able to not only chart Germanist activities in the British art world but also correct previous suggestions that post-1850 Anglo-German artistic relations dwindled against the backdrop of German Unification and the mounting geopolitical tensions presented by the Kaiserreich. My intention was to demonstrate that Germanism in the British art world in fact continued to thrive and its exact configuration was transformed as the decades and contexts changed so that the historical narrative is one of continuity and change over this age. Scully’s positive comments that my case studies ‘fit so well together’ and kind reference to the ‘breadth of scholarship’ in my ‘vibrant and engrossing work’ gives me hope that I have had at least some success in communicating these ideas.


(1) Parliamentary cultures: British and German perspectives / Parlamentskulturen: britische und deutsche Perspektiven, ed. Christiane Eisenberg, ed. (Trier, 2001); Cultural industries in Britain and Germany: sport, music and entertainment from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, ed. Christiane Eisenberg and Andreas Gestrich (Augsburg, 2012); Football History: International Perspectives / Fußball-Geschichte: Internationale Perspektiven, ed. Christiane Eisenberg and Pierre Lanfranchi (Köln, 2006); Panikos Panayi, German immigrants in Britain during the nineteenth century, 1815–1914 (Oxford, 1995); Exilanten und andere Deutsche in Fontanes London, ed. Peter Alter und Rudolf Muhs (Stuttgart, 1996).

(2) Although debates about German imperialism and art do benefit from such scholarship: see the use of Susanne Zantop, Colonial Fantasies: Conquest, Family, and Nation in Precolonial Germany (Durham, NC, 1997) in Matthew Potter, ‘Orientalism and its visual regimes: Lovis Corinth and imperialism in the art of the Kaiserreich’, in A History of Visual Culture: Western Civilization from the 18th to the 21st Century, ed. Jane Kromm and Susan Benforado Bakewell (New York, NY, 2010), pp. 243–6.

(3) Wilhelmine Germany and Edwardian Britain: Essays on Cultural Affinity, ed. Dominik Geppert and Robert Gerwarth (Oxford, 2008); Migration and transfer from Germany to Britain 1860–1914, ed. Stefan Manz, Margrit Schulte Beerbühl and John R. Davis (München, 2007).

(4) ‘S. L. Clemens to H. H. Rogers, 26–28 April 1897’, in Mark Twain’s Correspondence with Henry Huttleston Rogers, 1893–1909, ed. Lewis Leary (Berkeley, CA, 1969), p. 274.

(5) William Vaughan, German Romanticism and English Art (New Haven, CT and London, 1979); Rosemary Ashton, The German Idea: Four English Writers and the Reception of German Thought, 1800–1860 (Cambridge, 1980); Rosemary Ashton, Little Germany: Exile and Asylum in Victorian England (Oxford, 1986); The Peculiarities of German History: Bourgeois Society and Politics in Nineteenth-Century Germany, ed. D. Blackbourn and G. Eley (Oxford, 1984).

(6) Although ‘Brown’ is preferred in Julian Treuherz, et al, Ford Madox Brown: Pre-Raphaelite pioneer (London and New York, 2011) the artist is referred to as both ‘Brown’ and ‘Madox Brown’ in Theresa Newman and Ray Watkinson, Ford Madox Brown and the Pre-Raphaelite Circle (London, 1991), e.g. pp. 164–7, 172–3. In the Victorian and Edwardian periods there was a similarly divided practice. William Michael Rossetti employed ‘Madox Brown’ to differentiate the patriarch from other members of his family although Dante Gabriel Rossetti used ‘Brown’ in his correspondence (William Michael Rossetti, Rossetti papers, 1862–1870 (London, 1903), pp. 100, 132, 450). Others were more consistent in using ‘Madox Brown’. These include the artist’s grandson and biographer (Ford Madox Hueffer, Ford Madox Brown: a record of his life and work (London, 1896), see p. 1 and throughout), William Bell Scott, (Autobiographical Notes of the Life of William Bell Scott (2 vols., New York, NY, 1892), vol. 1, pp. 288, 295), and William Holman Hunt (Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (2 vols., New York, NY and London, 1904), vol. 1, p. 107).

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