Artist and Empire

Tate Britain

25 November 2015 – 10 April 2016

£7.25 with National Art Pass (standard entry £14.50)

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An exploration of the British Empire's impact on visual culture throughout the world.

This exhibition examines the political rhetoric surrounding the rule of the British Empire – whether it be confrontational or supportive – through over 200 paintings, drawings, sculptures and objects from the British Isles, North America, the Caribbean, the Pacific, Asia and Africa.  

Beginning in the 16th century, Tate presents the different ways in which artists 'mapped the world', often depicting newly conquered territories as exotic or 'savage' in order to present a sympathetic view for British audiences. The exhibition will also bring together grand portraits of key political figures by Augustus John and Joshua Reynolds.

The impact on collecting processes is also addressed, including the changing attitudes towards art from indigenous cultures, specifically Australia, as well as cultural assimilation, as seen in the East India Company's patronage of Mughal painting. More recent readings into the effect of colonialism are also presented in the rebuttal of British aesthetic values in favour of native cultures, as seen in the works of Jamini Roy and Uzo Egonu; as well as contemporary critiques from the likes of Hew Locke and Andrew Gilbert, who offer fresh interpretations of colonial imagery​.

Venue information

Opening times

Daily, 10am – 6pm (last admission 5.15pm)
Closed 24 – 26 Dec

"Art Fund" is the operating name of the National Art Collections Fund, a charity registered in England and Wales (209174) and Scotland (SC038331)