Arthur Melville and Presbyterian realism
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This thesis explores the significance of 'Presbyterian Realism' in the context of Scottish painting in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, with particular reference to the early development of Arthur Melville. Melville travelled in Egypt and Persia in 1881-'82, reflecting the contemporary taste for Eastern subjects at the Salon and Royal Academy exhibitions. However Melville's reactions to Islam contrasted directly with his peers, whose choice and treatment of contentious themes reveal the mentality of the imperialist male bourgeoisie. Melville's redefinition of Orientalism can be attributed to the particular social, religious, moral and ethical codes he had absorbed during his formative years, a conditioning which ensured that his patrons and the governing elite in Scotland were in sympathy with his approach. The unity of discourse between these indigenous codes and the aesthetic of Melville's protomodernism' is also examined. Melville emerged from the Scottish landscape and genre school towards 'proto-modernism', where his more radical stylistic and optical advances were reconciled against traditional themes. He was one of the first modern Scottish artists to live and work in Paris, and the reasons for the reluctant assimilation of the industrialised urban environment into his art are discussed in the context of his Scottish peers and contemporary French movements.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy