Malcolm Baker will give a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Thursday, September 15, at 12 pm. His talk is entitled “Multiple Authors: Ceramics, Celebrity, and Shaping Notions of Authorship in Eighteenth-Century Britain.”

Within eighteenth-century studies, changes in concepts of authorship and the author have attracted a large literature. Far less attention, however, has been given to the representation of authors in portraits and the role these played in the shaping of notions of authorship. Even less discussed in this context has been the part played by ceramic images of authors which figured so prominently within the production of Wedgwood and the Staffordshire ceramic factories. Yet during a period which Dr. Johnson described as “The Age of Authors,” when individual authors were acquiring a new celebrity and the canon of English literature was being formulated through anthologies and Johnson’s own Lives of the Poets, series of images in plaster and ceramic were being widely disseminated. The image of the author became familiar as much through these replicated figures and busts as through prints after paintings often used as frontispieces. In this talk, Baker will explore the agency exercised by ceramic images of authors and the role these played in shaping new notions of authorship.

Malcolm Baker is Distinguished Professor of Art History at the University of California, Riverside and is currently a Research Fellow at Bard Graduate Center. His career trajectory has involved moves between museums (including the V&A from which he retired as Head of the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries project) and universities in the United Kingdom and United States. His publications include The Marble Index: Roubiliac and Sculptural Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Yale UP, 2015); Roubiliac and the Eighteenth-Century Monument (co-authored with David Bindman and awarded the 1996 Mitchell Prize for Art History; Yale UP, 1995); and Figured in Marble: Making and Viewing Eighteenth-Century Sculpture (V&A Publications and the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000). He recently curated the exhibition, Fame and Friendship: Pope, Roubiliac and the Portrait Bust, for the Yale Center for British Art and the Rothschild Foundation, Waddesdon Manor, with a catalogue about images of the poet Alexander Pope. He is currently working on a book about portraits of authors and changing notions of authorship in the long eighteenth century.