- Visualizing Camelot: An Introduction
- Visualizing Camelot in Everyday Life
- Visualizing Camelot at the Movies
- Visualizing Camelot in Popular Culture
- Visualizing Camelot: Major Authors
- Illustrated Malory Editions
- Ashendene Press Malory and "The Barge to Avalon"
- Retellings of Malory
- Illustrated Tennyson Editions
- Tennyson's Influence on Popular Art and Culture
- Tennyson, Watts, and the Strength of Ten
- Art Based on Malory and Tennyson
- Illustrating Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
- Reworking Twain's Connecticut Yankee
- T. H. White
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
- Children's Books
- Visualizing Camelot through Iconic Images
- Women Illustrators
- Credits and Acknowledgments
- 2024 Events and Programming for Visualizing Camelot
Visualizing Camelot: An Introduction
In Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, Merlin tells young Gareth that Camelot is an enchanted city built to music, “therefore never built at all, / And therefore built forever.” These lines describe not only Tennyson’s Camelot but also the long and ever-evolving history of the Arthurian legend itself. From its origins in the Middle Ages, the story of Arthur has been in the process of being “built”; and in the course of its development, it has been—and continues to be—adapted by authors and artists and integrated into popular culture.
Part of the ongoing appeal of that story is the ideals it embodies, ideals at once timely and timeless. Major literary works by Tennyson, Mark Twain, Sir Thomas Malory, and T. H. White as well as other Arthurian texts such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight have encapsulated both concerns that are specific to their ages and values that are universal. Those works have, in turn, been interpreted by various artists and illustrators, who provide a visual representation of the Arthurian world.
Some of those illustrations are familiar and iconic; yet they are just a small part of the way that the Arthurian legends have been visually portrayed. Arthur, in fact, is everywhere—not only in other illustrated retellings and novels but also in paintings and drawings; in dramatic stage performances and films; in animation and youth culture. In popular imagery, the legendary king has been presented and represented in seemingly endless ways: children’s picturebooks, pop-up books, comic books, comic strips, graphic novels, dust jackets, book covers, movie posters, even fast-food giveaways. The world of Camelot has permeated many aspects of daily life—through television, advertising, product and business logos, postage stamps, postcards, music albums, bookends, decorator plates, toys and games (including board and computer games, coloring books, paper dolls, and puzzles), and other everyday items such as foods, alcoholic beverages, and dishware.
The wealth of Arthurian art and the popular images based on the legends demonstrate the vitality and the continuing tradition of depicting the Arthurian realm. Visualizing Camelot attempts to capture some of that tradition, especially as it manifests itself in England and America. On display in the exhibition are examples of iconic images—such as Arthur’s receiving of the sword Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake, the quest for the Grail, the entombment of Merlin by Vivien, and Arthur’s final journey to Avalon—as well as imagery from popular culture, from film posters and comic book art to holiday decorations.
Through these and other images, Visualizing Camelot reveals some of the ways that the characters and events from the Arthurian legends have become deeply entrenched in our culture and in our everyday lives.