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Pugin, Prisons, and the Plight of the Poor

Mar 11 - June 26, 2017 Huntington Art Gallery, Works on Paper Room

A. W. N. Pugin, Prisons, and the Plight of the Poor:  British Prints, Drawings, and Illustrated Books from The Huntington’s Collections

Henry Rushbury (British, 1889–1968), Debtor’s Prison, York, 1933, etching and drypoint on paper. Gift of Russel I. Kully.

Henry Rushbury (British, 1889–1968), Debtor’s Prison, York, 1933, etching and drypoint on paper. Gift of Russel I. Kully.

 

This exhibition examines the history of British prisons and how artists and architects documented the social, political, and legal tensions surrounding prison reform and Poor Law debates in Parliament during the 19th century. Drawn from the rich holdings of British material in The Huntington’s library and art collections, the works in “A.W.N. Pugin, Prisons, and the Plight of the Poor” depict a range of prison styles and highlight the role that these spaces served in containing and punishing criminals, debtors, drunks, gamblers, and paupers. Through a variety of visual materials, the exhibition examines the belief that the style and treatment of architecture has a direct correlation to the manner and behavior of society, an idea which had been promoted by prominent 19th-century architect and designer Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. Fifteen thought-provoking drawings, watercolors, prints, and rare books by artists such as Thomas Rowlandson, George Romney, Henry Rushbury, and Edward Dalziel present images of the fortress-like prisons, criminal acts, and zealous reformers that sparked imaginations from the mid-18th to the early 20th centuries.

 

Images

 

William Alexander (British, 1767–1816), Prison at St. Albans, undated, late 18th–early 19th century, graphite and ink wash on board.

William Alexander (British, 1767–1816), Prison at St. Albans, undated, late 18th–early 19th century, graphite and ink wash on board.

 


Edward Gurden Dalziel (British, 1817–1905), Children are the Poor Man’s Riches, ca. 1855, watercolor, gouache, and pen and ink over traces of graphite on paper.

Edward Gurden Dalziel (British, 1817–1905), Children are the Poor Man’s Riches, ca. 1855, watercolor, gouache, and pen and ink over traces of graphite on paper.

 


Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (British, 1812–1852), “Contrasted Residences of the Poor: Modern Poor House; Ancient Poor House” in Contrasts, or, A parallel between the noble edifices of the Middle Ages, and corresponding buildings of the present day, shewing the present decay of taste, 1841.

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin (British, 1812–1852), “Contrasted Residences of the Poor: Modern Poor House; Ancient Poor House” in Contrasts, or, A parallel between the noble edifices of the Middle Ages, and corresponding buildings of the present day, shewing the present decay of taste, 1841.

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The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens is a collections-based research and educational institution established in 1919 by Henry E. and Arabella Huntington. Henry Huntington, a key figure in the...

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