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Robert Tittler: Social Aspiration and Experiments in English Portraiture, c. 1560-1620

26 November, 2015 @ 5:30 pm - 7:15 pm


Cover of Tittler's "Portraits, Painters, and Publics in Provincial England" (OUP, 2012).Robert Tittler, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History (Concordia University) is a specialist in early modern English history. 

His work has moved progressively through political, social, economic, local/urban and cultural enquiries, focusing on the period to 1640. Having started out with Tudor figures (e.g. Nicholas Bacon, Mary I), his publications include Architecture and Power: The Town Hall and the English Urban Community (1991), The Reformation and the Towns in England: Politics and Political Culture, c. 1540-1640 (1998), and Townspeople and Nation: English Urban Experiences, 1540-1640.

Current work focuses on visual sources, including English portraiture in its economic and social setting (e.g. The Face of the City: civic portraiture and civic identity in early modern England, 2007 and Portraits, Painters, and Publics in Provincial England 2013, [pictured]).

In this lecture, Professor Tittler will consider experiments with the relatively new medium of secular portraiture, not amongst the aristocracy, but rather amongst the mobile gentry in the period c. 1560-1620. In their striving for social legitimacy, rural gentry from all corners of the realm helped shape that medium itself, albeit often ephemerally, to their current requirements. Amongst other points concerning, e.g. the social range of a portrait ‘public’, the paper examines both the autobiographical inscription and heraldic device which appear on the painted surface, and suggests how both elements were largely superseded by c. 1620.

This event is part of the SCEMS Visiting Speaker Lecture & Masterclass series.


26 November, 2015
5:30 pm - 7:15 pm
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Sheffield Centre for Early Modern Studies


Humanities Research Institute
34 Gell Street
Sheffield, S3 7QY United Kingdom
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