Henry Crabb Robinson and Edward Armitage’s Lost Fresco at Dr. Williams’s Library

  • Philipp Hunnekuhl


This chapter surveys Edward Armitage’s fresco ‘The Vanguard of the Age’ in the Lecture Hall of Dr. Williams’s Library, London. The fresco, painted in 1869 but lost since 1958, at its inception comprised thirty-four mostly literary figures from the Romantic period, such as William Hazlitt, William Godwin, Thomas Clarkson, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, August Wilhelm Schlegel, Germaine de Staël, Goethe, Schiller, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Charles and Mary Lamb, and Samuel Rogers. The fresco was dedicated to the memory of Henry Crabb Robinson (1775–1867), whose portrait Armitage incorporated at the centre, above the entrance to the Lecture Hall. I argue that once justice has been done to the depth and complexity with which Robinson commented on select writers from the fresco, they emerge in a new and compelling light, and the long-neglected Robinson consequently as an intellectual coequal among them. Armitage’s rendition hence accentuates the dynamics of Robinson’s network.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philipp Hunnekuhl
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen Mary University of LondonLondonUK

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