Combinatoric Form in Nineteenth-century Satiric Prints

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date


Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Forms of composite art that combined words and images, spectacle and music, proliferated in the Romantic period in a diverse array of popular expressions. Take the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery (1789–1805), for example, which gathered for viewing and purchase a collection of paintings and prints based on the Bard’s plays. This kind of thematic experience of pictures, as illustrating and interpreting well-known texts, was actually extremely common in the era of history painting. Or, to take an example from the 1820s, consider the popular gift-book annuals. Their editors commissioned poetry or fiction in direct response to pre- selected images, then juxtaposed text and image in the final publica- tion. Authors and readers alike often read both text and image as if in arranged dialogue with one another. In the realm of live-action multi- media, there were famous theatrical spectacles of the day, as well as quasi-theatrical immersive experiences such as the panorama, which sometimes depended on accompanying texts or performed music. Gillen Wood has rightly situated the production and reception of such visually orientated multimedia works at the heart of Romantic-period culture, the era of immense spectacles and exotic galleries of many kinds.1 In particular, the Romantic period is rich in examples of the material interrelation of verbal and visual form, text and image, and this richness stands as a caution against limiting our thinking about such matters to a single prominent model, such as William Blake’s handmade books, much less the more limited concept of mere textual ‘illustration’.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Romanticism and Form, p. 78-94