Bodybuilding Reforming Masculinities in British Art 1750-1810 Martin Myrone

Publication date:
15 Oct 2005
Yale University Press
352 pages: 254 x 190mm
140 b-w + 30 color illus.
Sales territories:


This original book explores the radical transformation of the heroic male body in late eighteenth-century British art. It ranges across a period in which a modern art world was established, taking  into account the lives and careers of a succession of major figures—from Benjamin West and Gavin Hamilton to Henry Fuseli, John Flaxman and William Blake—and influential institutions, from the Royal Academy to the commercial galleries of the 1790s.
Organized around the historical traumas of the Seven Years’ War (1756–63), the War of American Independence (1775–83) and the French Revolution and Revolutionary Wars (1789–1815), Bodybuilding places the visual representation of the hero at the heart of a series of narratives about social and economic change, gender identity, and the transformation of cultural value on the eve of modernity. The book offers a vivid image of a critical period in Britain’s cultural history and establishes a new framework for the study of late-eighteenth-century art and gender.

Martin Myrone is curator of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British art at Tate Britain, London.