Flowers, Empire and the Visualisation of Knowledge in the Eighteenth Century

A talk by Dr Melanie Cooper (Visiting Research Fellow, Art History, The University of Adelaide) | 16 July 2020

* * * SOLD OUT * * *

Floral emblems abound in eighteenth-century visual culture – an abundance of various forms, colours and textures can be found throughout fine works of art, textiles and jewellery, wallpapers, furniture, porcelain and other decorative objects. While the popular visual appeal of flowers has endured across time and cultures, images and replicas of natural specimens including plant matter played an important part in visualising European colonial power during an age of territorial expansion.  This paper will explore how the observation, collection and imitation of floral specimens aided in the mastery of nature and visualisation of knowledge that served both individual and nationalistic interests.


About the speaker…

Dr Melanie Cooper is a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Art History at the University of Adelaide where she has recently acted as Course Co-Ordinator and Lecturer in subjects including Art in Enlightenment and Censorship and Iconoclasm. Specialising in the material and visual culture of the eighteenth century, her research interests include representations of mythology and folklore, gender and sexuality, natural history, the imagination and materialist philosophy. Her work appears in Anne Greenfield’s Interpreting Sexual Violence, 1660-1800 and in a forthcoming collection of essays soon to be published by the University of Delaware Press. Melanie is the current state representative for the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand and regularly presents her work at national and international conferences and seminars. In addition to academic research, Melanie also maintains her own studio practice and writes on Contemporary art.


Cost: $25 (including a complimentary glass of wine)

Numbers limited. Book early to avoid disappointment.

Limited parking available onsite.


Image: Detail of a Louis XV ormolu-mounted Meissen and Vincennes Porcelain Centrepiece, c.1745-49. Private collection.


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