The Body Politic: Anatomical Drawings by Benjamin Robert Haydon
Until 21 October 2007
In The Tennant Room, a John Madejski Fine Room
Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786-1848), Anatomical drawing of the hand, 1805. Black and red ink with grey, red, brown and blue washes. Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786-1846) was the most controversial artist of his day. A self-styled ‘genius’ and the scourge of the Royal Academy, he was determined to revive the flagging fortunes of British history painting. Anatomy was the lynchpin of all Haydon’s art and theory. The Body Politic brings together a selection of his dramatic drawings from the Academy collection, charting his progress from anatomical textbooks to dissections. Haydon prized these studies, using them to teach his pupils and as the basis for his lectures on art.
Today, Haydon is remembered for his engaging diaries and as a friend of Wordsworth and Keats. In his lifetime, his grandiose paintings incited considerable interest. However, Haydon’s passionate, uncompromising temperament alienated supporters and every unsold painting plunged him further into debt. Eventually, worn down by decades of struggle, he committed suicide on 22nd June 1846 in front of an unfinished canvas.
The Tennant Room is one of the John Madejski Fine Rooms
1pm-4.30pm Tuesday to Friday
10am-6pm Saturday and Sunday