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Academic & Professional Books  Natural History  Art

Sea Currents in Nineteenth-Century Art, Science and Culture Commodifying the Ocean World

Series: Biotechne
By: Kathleen Davidson(Editor), Molly Duggins(Editor)
336 pages, 27 colour & 53 b/w illustrations
Sea Currents in Nineteenth-Century Art, Science and Culture
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  • Sea Currents in Nineteenth-Century Art, Science and Culture ISBN: 9781501352782 Hardback Mar 2023 Not in stock: Usually dispatched within 5 days
Price: £89.99
About this book Contents Customer reviews Biography Related titles

About this book

How did scientists, artists, designers, manufacturers and amateur enthusiasts experience and value the sea and its products? Examining the commoditization of the ocean world during the nineteenth century, this book demonstrates how the transaction of oceanic objects inspired a multifaceted material discourse stemming from scientific exploration, colonial expansion, industrialization, and the rise of middle-class leisure.

From the seashore to the seabed, marine organisms and environments, made tangible through processing and representational technologies, captivated practitioners and audiences. Combining essays and case studies by scholars, curators, and scientists, Sea Currents in Nineteenth-Century Art, Science and Culture investigates the collecting and display, illustration and ornamentation, and trade and consumption of marine flora and fauna, analysing their material, aesthetic and commercial dimensions. Traversing global art history, the history of science, empire studies, anthropology, ecocriticism and material culture, this book surveys the currency of marine matter embedded in the economies and ecologies of a modernizing ocean world.


List of Illustrations
List of Contributors

1. Commodifying the Ocean World in the Long Nineteenth Century / Kathleen Davidson and Molly Duggins (The University of Sydney, Australia; National Art School, Sydney, Australia)

Part One: Wave – Circulating Marine Products
2. Ambergris in Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Medicine, Perfume and Natural History / Georgina Cole (National Art School, Sydney, Australia)
3. Imperial Coral: The Transformation of a Natural Material to a Qing Imperial Treasure / Pippa Lacey (National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, UK)
4. Echoes of Empire: The Painted Museums of Leroy de Barde / Jessica Priebe (the National Art School, Sydney, Australia)
5. 'Native Manufactures': Sailors' Valentines and the Caribbean Curio Trade / Molly Duggins (the National Art School, Sydney, Australia)

Part Two: Shore – Coastal Economies and Ecologies
6. Reading the Wrack Line on the French Atlantic Shore / Maura Coughlin (Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island, USA)
7. An Intense Curiosity: Marine Research Stations and Marine Specimens in the Late Nineteenth Century / Jude Philp (Macleay Museum, The University of Sydney, Australia)
8. The Tears of Pearls: Archaic Labour, Fisheries and Waste in Ceylon and Beyond / Natasha Eaton (UCL, UK)
9. Culture Keeping and Money Making: Aboriginal Women's Shellwork from the South Coast of New South Wales / Priya Vaughan (the National Art School, Sydney, Australia)

Part Three: Seabed – Materializing Submarine Environments
10. Their 'Colours are Brilliant, but Fugitive': Coral Concerns from Imperial Expeditions and the British Museum to the Royal Academy and Drury Lane / Kathleen Davidson (The University of Sydney, Australia)
11. Aquariums Under the Rising Sun: A Cultural History of Early Public Aquariums in Japan, 1882-1903 / Yuichi Mizoi (Kansai University, Japan)
12. Merging the University Museum and Volksbildung: The Curatorial Strategies of Berlin's Museum für Meereskunde in 1900 / Stefanie Lenk (The University of Göttingen, Germany)

Part Four: Oceanic Objects – Museum Case Studies
13. 'An Imitation of Seaweed': Nature and Design in a Late Eighteenth-Century Printed Cotton / Ann Christie (Independent Researcher)
14. Fashioning Whale Bone: Scrimshaw and the Nineteenth-Century Tradition of the Decorative Busk / Martha Cattell (Curator and Independent Researcher)
15. The Ornamental Glass Window of the Maison des Océans in Paris: A Celebration of Evolution / Jacqueline Goy (The Oceanographic Institute, Monaco) and Robert Calcagno (Government Advisor, Ministry of the Equipment, Environment and Urban Planning, Monaco)
16. Trade Connections: The Acquisition of Blaschka Models of Marine Invertebrates by Museums in Australia and New Zealand / Jan Brazier, Curator of History, Macleay Collections, Chau Chak Wing Museum (The University of Sydney, Australia)


Customer Reviews


Kathleen Davidson is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Art History at the University of Sydney, Australia. Molly Duggins is a lecturer in the Department of Art History and Theory at the National Art School, Sydney, Australia.

Series: Biotechne
By: Kathleen Davidson(Editor), Molly Duggins(Editor)
336 pages, 27 colour & 53 b/w illustrations
Media reviews

Sea Currents expands our thinking about human interactions with the oceans, linking developments in museums, consumerism, exploration, and colonialism with artistic and scientific culture, in an engaging discussion of how the ocean world was commodified by and for diverse communities. * Peter H. Hoffenberg, Professor of History, University of Hawai'i at Manoa; co-editor of Oceania and the Victorian Imagination (2013) *
The sea's leavings - whalebone, spermaceti, isinglass, mother-of-pearl, coral, seaweed - fascinate and allure. Exploring how nineteenth-century oceanic commodities were desired, extracted, displayed, and sold around the world, this volume provides a fascinating portrait of the Victorian sea and its global meanings. * Steve Mentz, Professor of English, St. John's University, USA; author of Ocean (2020) and A Cultural History of the Early Modern Sea (2021) *
Sea Currents moves beyond sublime seascapes and shipwrecks to uncover marine object and display histories and the myriad ways they infiltrated everyday life. From rich and strange to domesticated, here the sea not only exceeds the frame but blows it apart. * Pandora Syperek, co-editor, 'Curating the Sea', Journal of Curatorial Studies, 2020, and Oceans (Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art, 2023) *

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