This lecture examines the way in which the industrial revolution affected art and design, and how it was depicted in the paintings and objects of the late 18th and 19th century


In 1709, in a small riverside town in Shropshire, a quaker industrialist called Abraham  Darby set up Coalbrookedale Iron Foundry. his revolutionary new method of smelting iron ore would make him a pioneer of the industrial revolution. From the beautiful Iron  Bridge cross the River Severn, build by his grandson in 1776 to the majesty of the Crystal Palace opened by Queen Victoria in 1851, news forms of technology created a world of factories, railways and mass production.

In  this lecture we’ll meet inventors, industrialists  and designers like Josiah Wedgwood, Matthew Bolton, Thomas Telford and the Stephensons, whose products married design and modernity and became renown across Europe. Through paintings of the 18th  and 19th centuries, we’ll see how new techniques affected design, and consider how mass production and the changing landscape affected life for rich and poor.

The apogee of this industrial age was the  Crystal Palace exhibition in 1851. We’ll look at the building, its contents and the huge success of the Great Exhibition, as well as its legacy for art, design and architecture through the nineteenth century and beyond.