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Title: Britain in the classical world : Samuel Lysons and the art of Roman Britain 1780-1820
Authors: Scott, Sarah Ann
First Published: 3-Dec-2013
Publisher: Oxford University Press (OUP)
Citation: Classical Receptions Journal, 2014, 6 (2), pp. 294-337
Abstract: This article shows how the eminent antiquary Samuel Lysons (1763–1819) used his publications of Romano-British remains, which were aimed at a British and Continental audience, to challenge the widely held view that Britain’s climate and national characteristics were incompatible with artistic excellence and that Britain was culturally inferior to its Continental neighbours, most notably France, in both past and present. In particular, it shows how he depicted villas and mosaics as some of the finest examples of British cultural achievement under Roman rule, in a period when Roman Britain was largely seen as a military province and cultural backwater, and when aristocratic tastes were predominantly cosmopolitan. He asserted a dramatic improvement from former barbarism and placed Britain firmly within a pan-European classical tradition. The publications also showcased British achievements in the recording of Roman remains and antiquities and in landscape painting, serving as an impressive statement of intellectual and artistic superiority. Samuel Lysons and his associates were working collaboratively to an international agenda, celebrating Britain’s cultural leadership in Europe. Their efforts, most notably in the recording of Romano-British mosaics, have underpinned an exemplary tradition of mosaic scholarship in Britain, and merit far greater recognition.
DOI Link: 10.1093/crj/clt030
ISSN: 1759-5134
eISSN: 1759-5142
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2013, The Author. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. Deposited with reference to the publisher’s archiving policy available on the SHERPA/RoMEO website.
Description: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Classical Receptions Journal following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Classical Receptions Journal, 2014, 6 (2), pp. 294-337 is available online at:
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, School of Archaeology and Ancient History

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