Meet our Keynotes: Dr Lucy Peltz

We have chosen to have two wonderful keynote speakers and would like to take an opportunity to introduce them to you.

Our first Keynote speaker is Dr Lucy Peltz.

Lucy Peltz is Senior Curator 18th Century Portraits and Head of Collections Displays (Tudor to Regency) at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Her book Facing the Text: Extra-illustration, Print Culture and Society in Britain, 1769-1840 has just been published by the Huntington Library Press,California with the support of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. Extra-illustration, portrait prints and graphic culture are subjects that she has published on widely in scholarly journals over the last two decades. In pursuing her research, she has been awarded several fellowships, including, a Huntington Library Fellowship (2001) and a Research Fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust (2008-10). She also holds an Honorary Research Fellowship in the History of Art Department, Birkbeck, University of London

She has been a Curator at the National Portrait Gallery for 17 years and has curated a number of exhibitions including Brilliant Women: Eighteenth Century Bluestockings (2008), with Elizabeth Eger, and Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Splendour (2010-11), with Cassandra Albinson and Peter Funnell, in both cases with accompanying publications. She also supported Gill Perry on the exhibition First Actresses: From Nell Gwynn to Sarah Siddons (2012) and is working with David Solkin on Gainsborough’s Family Album for autumn 2019. She is currently leading the refurbishment of the Tudor to Regency galleries at the National Portrait Gallery to be launched in 2022.

Lucy’s keynote is titled, ‘Facing the Text: An Introduction to Extra-illustration in Britain from the eighteenth to the twentieth century’. Here’s an outline of her keynote:

Extra-illustration, or ‘grangerizing’, was the process by which readers and collectors customized published books by pasting in of thematically linked prints, watercolours and other visual material. An enormously popular and sociable fashion from the late eighteenth to the mid nineteenth century, thousands of extra-illustrated volumes survive in museums, libraries and private collections in Britain and the USA. Despite the size, status and impact of extra-illustration in its own time, little has been written on this genre because extra-illustrated books have tended to be submerged in collection by cataloguing protocols that provide little or no clue to the physical qualities and individuality of such volumes.

Visual material was added to books to elucidate, dramatise and comment on the chosen text. Extra-illustrated books thus reflect the particular readings, taste and social inclinations of their makers. They afford rich evidence of how eighteenth-century authors and readers engaged with books and prints as texts, material artefacts and items of display and social exchange. Often lavish visual spectacles, extra-illustrated books were understood by the amateurs that made them as public monuments to sociability, status and leisure time well spent.

Considering numerous unpublished examples, this paper will provide an introduction to the fashion for extra-illustration from the late eighteenth century. It will reveal the popularity, social resonance and notoriety of the pastime by exploring first its highly-charged condemnation as ‘bibliomania’ and ‘book larceny’ and then its revival as an elegant practice in late nineteenth century Britain and America.

Lucy’s keynote will be responded to by Dr Tom Mole.