A. W. N. Pugin, Prisons, and the Plight of the Poor: British Prints, Drawings, and Illustrated Books from The Huntington’s Collections

Mar. 11, 2017Jun. 26, 2017
Huntington Art Gallery, Works on Paper Room

This exhibition examines the history of British prisons and how artists and architects documented the social, political, and legal tensions surrounding prison reform and Poor Law debates in Parliament during the 19th century. Drawn from the rich holdings of British material in The Huntington’s library and art collections, the works in “A.W.N. Pugin, Prisons, and the Plight of the Poor” depict a range of prison styles and highlight the role that these spaces served in containing and punishing criminals, debtors, drunks, gamblers, and paupers. Through a variety of visual materials, the exhibition examines the belief that the style and treatment of architecture has a direct correlation to the manner and behavior of society, an idea which had been promoted by prominent 19th-century architect and designer Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. Fifteen thought-provoking drawings, watercolors, prints, and rare books by artists such as Thomas Rowlandson, George Romney, Henry Rushbury, and Edward Dalziel present images of the fortress-like prisons, criminal acts, and zealous reformers that sparked imaginations from the mid-18th to the early 20th centuries.