Campus News

Featured Academic News Story: Pamela Fletcher and the British Problem Picture

Story posted December 18, 2003

In Pamela Fletcher's new book Narrating Modernity: The British Problem Picture, 1895-1914, the assistant professor of art history examines a British art phenomenon with which many Americans are unfamiliar — the problem picture.

Problem pictures were popular from 1895 until about 1914. They were nearly life-size, narrative paintings with names like The Prodigal Daughter, The Cheat, and Defendant and Counsel.

"[They were] these sort of deliberately ambiguous scenes of modern life," Fletcher said.

In her book, Fletcher examines how the problem picture functioned in society, how they related to critical attitudes toward modern art, and what part the media of the day played in promoting them. To read more about Fletcher's book and research on the problem picture, visit Bowdoin’s Academic News site at

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