Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Fine Arts

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Although Coleridge's thinking and writing about the fine arts was both considerable and interesting, this has not been the subject of a book before.

Coleridge owed his initiation into art to Sir George Beaumont. In 1803-4 he had frequent opportunities to learn from Beaumont, to study Beaumont's small but elegant collection and to visit private collections. Before leaving for Malta in April 1804, Coleridge wrote "I have learnt as much fr[om] Sir George Beaumont respecting Pictures & Painting and Paint[ers as] I ever learnt on any subject from any man in the same Space of Time."

In Italy in 1806, Coleridge's experience of art deepened, thanks to the American artist Washington Allston, who taught him to see the artistic sights of Rome with a painter's eye. Coleridge also visited Florence and Pisa, and later said of the frescoes in Pisa's Camp Santo: "The impression was greater, I may say, than that any poem ever made upon me."

Back in England, Coleridge visited London exhibitions, country house collections, and even artists' studios. In 1814, both Coleridge and Allston were in Bristol—Coleridge lecturing, Allston exhibiting. Coleridge's "On the Principles of Genial Criticism" began as a defense of Allston's paintings but became a statement about all the arts.

This book, an important contribution to Coleridge's intellectual biography, will make readers aware of a dimension of his thinking that has been largely ignored until now.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199233052
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/15/2008
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Morton D. Paley has spent most of his professional career at the University of California, Berkeley, where he is now Emeritus Professor of English. He has also taught at the City University of New York and Boston University; and has been a visiting professor at the State University of New York, the University of ZĂĽrich, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the University of Bern, the University of Uppsala, and the University of Heidelberg (the last as Senior Fulbright Lecturer). He has been a Guggenheim Fellow twice, a Research Fellow of the National Humanities Institute, and a Fellow at the Yale Center for British Art. In 2002 he was awarded the Distinguished Scholar Award of the Keats-Shelley Association of America. He is Emeritus Fellow of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the period October 2006 to October 2008.

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Table of Contents

1. Initiation
2. Italy
3. What Coleridge Saw
4. Allston Redux
5. Coleridge on the Fine Arts
6. Aesthetics Appendices: William Collins' Portrait of Sara Coleridge; Coleridge's Use of Artistic Terms; F. A. M. Retzsch's Illustrations in Faustus from the German of Goethe, Translated by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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