Chatterton 1856 by Henry Wallis

Furious, Wild and Young

The Death of Chatterton

Bristol Poetic City/
7 October - 18 October 2020

Furious, Wild and Young

The Death of Chatterton

Chatterton 1856 by Henry Wallis
7 October - 18 October 2020

Join us for a viewing of Henry Wallis’ famous painting of Thomas Chatterton as part of the Poetic City programme.

This is a unique opportunity to see the work outside of London. It created a sensation when it was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1856, and was described by leading Victorian art critic John Ruskin as ‘faultless and wonderful’.

2020 marks 250 years since the death of Bristol-born poet Thomas Chatterton. Despite his accolade as the ‘Father of Romantic Poetry’, he’s largely unknown in his home-city. Chatterton’s writings, life and death were a source of fascination for artists and writers in the 19th century and he became a tragic hero, emblematic of artistic martyrdom.

In addition to the exhibition of Wallis’ painting at the Royal West of England Academy (RWA), the Poetic City programme includes new publications, poetry commissions and readings, mental health workshops and lectures.

Former Bath Young Poet Laureate Polly Denny has been appointed Writer in Residence at the RWA during the exhibition. She will be running workshops around the painting and writing a poem to mark the new phase in the gallery’s history. The RWA will be exhibiting artworks made by young people of a similar age to Chatterton alongside the Wallis painting. These artworks have been created with community youth groups and students in workshops exploring Chatterton’s significance, led by Polly Denny and RWA Academician Laurie Steen.

Coordinated by the Bristol Cultural Development Partnership, A Poetic City is a multi-partner, citywide programme. It aims to celebrate Bristol’s vibrant and diverse contemporary poetry scene, making connections to the past and inspiring poets of the future. It is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, using money raised by National Lottery players. #bristolpoeticcity

Image credit: Chatterton, 1856, Henry Wallis. Tate: Bequeathed by Charles Gent Clement 1899. Photo © Tate. Image released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported)

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