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Pastoral Authorship and Porcelain Figurines: Pope’s Elite Aesthetic and the Fashionable Decorative Commodity

  • Lauren MiskinEmail author
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Abstract

Suggesting that styles of authorial self-representation might materialize in fashionable commodities, this chapter traces the mid-eighteenth-century vogue for pastoral motifs on decorative objects to Alexander Pope’s early-career construction of himself as a refined poet of pastoral. In a well-publicized debate with Thomas Tickell in 1712, Pope defined an elite aesthetic for pastoral. Rather than condescending to write poetry for the masses, as Tickell recommended, Pope identified pastoral as the prerogative of erudite gentlemen. Pope’s pastoral criterion seems to have shaped British consumers’ tastes, guiding them toward decorative commodities that met his specifications. Moreover, Pope’s endorsement of the pastoral aesthetic as the epitome of gentility may have directly influenced the way that manufacturers and artisans later deployed the pastoral mode in their own designs.

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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.English DepartmentThe Hockaday SchoolDallasUSA

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