School of Design

Postgraduate research student profiles


Julia Alessandrini

Phone: (+61 8) 6488 1554
Fax: (+61 8) 6488 1082

Start date

Jul 2007

Submission date

Aug 2012

Julia Alessandrini


'London fog' and the Symbolism of Empire: Nineteenth-Century Artistic Representations of Atmosphere in London and Other Imperial Sites


This thesis identifies, analyses, and defines the actual and symbolic connections between the idea and practice of empire and the foggy atmosphere of nineteenth-century London through an exploration of nineteenth century art and literature. It shows that both actual and symbolic understandings of the relationship between the city of London and its fog inform, are embedded in, and play between popular and scholarly knowledge of the city so that London fog can be interpreted as a defining characteristic of the city itself and its symbolic role as a capital of empire.

Why my research is important

This thesis makes an original contribution to art historical scholarly knowledge by being the only comprehensive, developed and thematic study to my knowledge to ask if there is a connection between fog and empire in nineteenth-century artistic representations of London and other imperial sites. The results should benefit scholarship in the fields of art and literary history and art theory in particular by demonstrating that such a relationship exists, by widening current understandings of the symbolism of fog and of empire, and by revealing the extent to which nineteenth century artists and writers were active contributors to imperial meaning through their symbolic use of fog.


  • 2012 UWA Completion Scholarship
  • 2009 Overseas Travel Award
  • 2008 Australian Postgraduate Award
  • 2008 Jean Rogerson Postgraduate Award
  • 2009 Margaret and Herbert Horsfall Memorial Bursary

Arthur Streeton, The Centre of Empire, circa 1901, oil on canvas, 122.5 x 122.5 cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Australia.