Tate Britain's survey is pretty much a greatest hits compilation. Arranged into thematic rooms, with little sense of narrative direction, the show won't do much to change anybody's preconceptions of the movement. Those who already love the stylistic mannerisms will delight in the accumulation of works here, but there is nothing presented to challenge the preconceptions of the audience.
Publishing publicists are keen for authors to have as high a public profile as possible (as are plenty of authors themselves.) As this New York Times article demonstrates beautifully, this cult of self promotion isn't exactly a new phenomenon. But what about the drawbacks of this style-over-substance approach when it comes to reading the books themselves.
What could be more typically English than Jan Siberechts' neat image of a tamed English Arcadia? The image, currently on display at the Tate Britain's Migrations exhibition, is one of polite mowed lawns; chimney smoke gently drifting up into the fresh early morning air; a church steeple in the distance and a grubby vegetable plot in the foreground.
This exhibition highlights how solid economic bonds can be extinguished, almost overnight in a hail of political wrangling and arguing. It is prescient, although perhaps without meaning to be. Indeed, just as it is impossible to tell the story of Britain after 1945 without reference to Europe, so to is it impossible to tell the story of 18th-century Britain without reference to the Atlantic.
The Bard represents a deeper idea. The old prophet - the last crumbling bastion of an antediluvian way of thinking - madly attempting to stem the current of an England representing order and progress at the expense of older values. In vain does he challenge the monotonous and inevitable advance of the English army.