In this book Sam Smiles sets out to investigate two fundamental issues: how was the remote past of Britain imagined in the 18th and 19th centuries and what part did the visual arts play in that process. The Ancient Britain of the romantic imagination was a contested world, variously seen as a noble epoch of wisdom and patriotism or as a period of unredeemed savagery and barbarism. This study argues that the arts not only reflected these historical debates but actively contributed to them by attempting to bring the archaic past to life. Sam Smiles examines the interplay between antiquarian research, historiography and the visual arts in constructing an image of Britain from prehistoric times to the arrival of the Saxons. His interdisciplinary approach analyses the concepts of time and history, the status of antiquarian learning and northern-European celebration of ancestral peoples. He looks at the Celtic revival and the iconography of Ancient Britain which developed in this period and fashioned a pictorial repertoire for megaliths, bards, Druids and the patriotic leaders Boadicea and Caractacus whose legacy is still with us today. Illustrated with images from a wide range of sources, this is the first major interdisciplinary examination of the image of antiquity which has a particular significance for art historians and historians alike.
History, Ancient-Civilizations, Prehistory,