Art in the Age of Queen Victoria
For most of the reign of Queen Victoria, the Royal Academy of Arts led the British art world. Two of its Directors were also Directors of the recently established National Gallery, and, in 1869, the Academy moved to its current home at Burlington House in London's Piccadilly. Here the public crowded the Annual Summer Exhibition and the Winter Loan Exhibitions of work by Old Masters and British artists including Sir Edwin Landseer, known for his animal paintings, the Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir John Everett Millais and High Victorian Classicists Sir Edward Poynter and Frederic, Lord Leighton.
The works of art deposited with the Royal Academy by each Member elected to full Academician status present a vivid record of contemporary taste. This exhibition offers the opportunity to view nearly 80 Victorian paintings and sculptures from the Permanent Collection and celebrates the artists and the subjects so lauded in their day. These range from idealised nudes and scenes from mythology, biblical subjects and genre scenes illustrating contemporary moral issues, to costume portraits, the search for the exotic and landscapes and seascapes. The artists who created these works include Edwin Austin Abbey, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, William Powell Frith, David Roberts and George Frederic Watts.
The second half of the 19th century has been called the positivist age and one of the most fascinating periods in our history. It has been an age of faith in the positive consequences of what can be achieved through the close observation of the natural and human realms. The spirit of 19th century England could be personified through Queen Victoria and it is known as the Victorian era [1837 to 1901].
Victorian art's vibrant colors represented the high society of the picture of England which was shaped by the eclectic period of the 64-year reign of Queen Victoria. Queen Victoria's reign saw a great expansion of the British Empire, which led to a high level of prosperity and social and fashion finery which was recorded in bright, emotional color. Though the Victorian Era of art began with a return to the classic realism which was popular during the height of ancient Roman and Greek societies, the many technological advances made during that time caused changes in the way scientists, artists and the public viewed art and aesthetics.
Victorian art was produced by a series of artists who were mainly focused on the popularity of England's high-fashion and modern elegance, which was inspired by the British Empire's growth during the era. This popularity and the elegant artwork which depicted it rendered England to be considered by the world at large a picture of modernity, finery and and elegant etiquette.
Art styles varied somewhat during the Victorian art period because of the huge advances made in photographic and architectural technology during the reign of Queen Victoria. Both architecture and visual arts showed changes in form and decorum as a result of the changing viewpoint on aesthetics, which was caused by the developing technologies.
In addition to popular high-class social events, many paintings during the Victorian era were of the countryside of England. The countryside was the point of view for most of the common people of England, and the emotional tendencies of the painting styles of the Victorian era also made appearances in the art that became popular in the rural areas.
Victorian art is a name derived from time-period and encompasses the styles of art that were produced during the Victorian Era, a period identified as the time of Queen Victoria's reign. This reign extended from June, 1837 to January, 1901, and yielded an era which marks the time when the British Empire was at its most powerful.
It is impossible to deal with, and even to name all the forma of artistic activity, which have marked the Queen's reign. The past sixty years of British art have been fertile in ideas and artistic experiment, subjects previously unthought of, effects before unobserved, emotions and sympathies until now unexpressed have been added to the material with which art deals, and, when all the trivial, and incompetent, and inartistic work produced has sunk and is forgotten in the abyss of time, there will still remain sufficient original and powerful art to make the Victorian era brilliant in the annals of British art, and important in those of Europe. [James L. Caw.]
Art covered during the Victorian period include the Classicism [Classic Realism] era, followed by the Neoclassicism movement and includes Impressionism and Post-Impressionism as well. As a result, the Victorian art period began focused on a realism-centric style which hearkened back to classic art style used in ancient Greek and Roman pieces. The Classisism period then went through a series of influences which brought in the use of brighter colors and more emotional strokes, which replaced an attention to realistic detail in shadow and form, leading to the post-impressionism which ended the era of Queen Victoria's reign.
Romanticism might best be described as anticlassicism. A reaction against Neoclassicism, it is a deeply-felt style which is individualistic, exotic, beautiful and emotionally wrought. Although Romanticism and Neoclassicism were philosophically opposed, they were the dominant European styles for generations, and many artists were affected to a lesser or greater degree by both. Artists might work in both styles at different times or even combine elements, creating an intellectually Romantic work using a Neoclassical visual style, for example. In the North America, the leading Romantic movement was the Hudson River School of dramatic landscape painting. Obvious successors of Romanticism include the Pre-Raphaelite movement and the Symbolist painters. Although true English romanticism began as far back as the 1750s with Gainsborough, J.M.W. Turner began painting his romantic landscapes in the Victorian years of the 1840s. Great artists closely associated with Romanticism include Caspar David Friedrich, John Constable, and William Blake.
Norwich school - (1803-1833):
Founded in 1803 in Norwich, was the first provincial art movement in Britain. Artists of the school were inspired by the natural beauty of the Norfolk landscape They met for 'the purpose of an enquiry into the rise, progress and present state of painting, architecture and sculpture with a view to point out the best method of study to attain the greater perfection in these arts. During this period its two leaders were John Crome, (1768-1821), and John Sell Cotman, (1782-1842).
Nazarene movement - (c. 1820-late 1840s):
The name Nazarene was adopted by a group of early 19th century German Romantic painters who aimed to revive honesty and spirituality in Christian art. The name Nazarene came from a term of derision used against them for their affectation of a biblical manner of clothing and hair style.
The Ancients - (1820s-1840s):
The Ancients (also known as the Shoreham Ancients), were a group of young English artists and others who were brought together around 1824 by their attraction to archaism in art and admiration for the work of William Blake (1757-1827), who was a generation or two older than the group.
Purismo - (c. 1820-1860s):
Italian cultural movement which began in the 1820s. Inspired by the Nazarenes from Germany, the artists of Purismo reject Neoclassicism and emulated the works of Raphael, Giotto and Fra Angelico.The group's ideals were iterated in their manifesto Del purismo nelle arti, in 1842-43, which was written by Antonio Bianchini and co-signed by Tommaso Minardi (1787-1871), the major proponent of Purismo, Nazarene co-founder Friedrich Overbeck and Pietro Tenerani. The movement flourished through 1860, and reflected the taste for revivalist styles, which in Italy was fed growing interest in Italian national identity and artistic heritage.
Düsseldorf School - (mid-1820s-1860s):
Düsseldorf State Art Academy in the 1830s and 1840s, when the Academy was directed by the painter Wilhelm von Schadow. The work of the Düsseldorf School is characterized by finely detailed yet still fanciful landscapes, often with religious or allegorical stories set in the landscapes. Leading members of the Düsseldorf School advocated "plein air painting", and tended to use a palette with relatively subdued and even colors. The Düsseldorf School grew out of and was a part of the German Romantic movement and was a significant influence on the Hudson River School in the United States, and many prominent Americans trained at the Düsseldorf Academy and show the influence of the Düsseldorf School.
Hudson River school - (c.1835-1870):
Mid-19th century American art movement embodied by a group of landscape painters whose aesthetic vision was influenced by romanticism. The paintings for which the movement is named depict the Hudson River Valley and the surrounding area, including the Catskill, Adirondack, and the White Mountains; eventually works by the second generation of artists associated with the school expanded to include other locales in New England, the Maritimes, the American West, and South America. The particular use of light effects, to lend an exaggerated drama to such elements as mist and sunsets, developed into a subspecialty known as Luminism. In addition to Thomas Cole, the best-known practioners of this style were Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt.
White Mountain art - (c.1820s-1870s):
The body of work created during the 19th century by over four hundred artists who painted landscape scenes of the White Mountains of New Hampshire in order to promote the region and, consequently, sell their works of art.
Luminism - (1850s-1870s):
American landscape painting style characterized by effects of light in landscapes, through using aerial perspective, and concealing visible brushstrokes. Luminist landscapes emphasize tranquillity, and often depict calm, reflective water and a soft, hazy sky. Luminism was introduced by mid-20th-century art historians to describe a 19th-century American painting style that developed as an offshoot of the Hudson River school. Luminism preceded impressionism, and the artists who painted in a luminist style were in no way influenced by impressionism.
English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848, by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The three founders were joined by William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens, and Thomas Woolner to form the seven-member "brotherhood". Their goal was to develop a naturalistic style of art, throwing away the rules and conventions that were drilled into students' heads at the Academies. Raphael was the artist they considered to have achieved the highest degree of perfection, so much so that students were encouraged to draw from his examples rather than from nature itself. The group popularized a theatrically romantic style, marked by great beauty, an intricate realism, and a fondness for Arthurian and Greek legend. The movement itself did not last past the 1850s, but the style remained popular for decades, influencing the Arts and Crafts Movement, the Symbolist painters, and even the Classicists.
A British form of historical painting inspired by the art and architecture of Classical Greece and Rome. In the 19th century, an increasing number of Western Europeans made the "Grand Tour" to Mediterranean lands. There was a great popular interest in the region's lost civilizations and exotic cultures, and this interest fuelled the rise of Classicism in Britain, and Orientalism, which was mostly centered in continental Europe. The Classicists were closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelites, many artists being influenced by both styles to some degree. Both movements were highly romantic and were inspired by similar historical and mythological themes -- the key distinction being that the Classicists epitomized the rigid Academic standards of painting, while the Pre-Raphaelites were initially formed as a rebellion against those same standards. Frederick Leighton and Lawrence Alma-Tadema were the leading Classicists, and in their lifetimes were considered by many to be the finest painters of their generation.
A celebration of individual design and craftsmanship, developing as a reaction against transformation of Britain due to the industrial revolution. William Morris, who spearheaded the movement, is particularly remembered as a book designer. He also produced stained glass, textiles and wallpaper, in addition to being a painter and writer. The movement was closely tied to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood; Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, among others, produced designs for Morris' company.
A style of American painting in which landscapes are depicted in soft light and shadows, often as if through a colored or misty veil. Imported to the U.S. by American painters inspired by Barbizon School landscapes, it was a forerunner to the many schools and colonies of American Impressionism which arose in the first part of the 20th century. The most influential practitioners of the style were George Inness, whose roots were in landscape painting, and James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903), whose approach was primarily aesthetic, aiming for elegance and harmony in the colors of a painting, and John White Alexander (1856-1915). Tonalism's soft-edged realism also had an influence on the photography of the early 20th century - specifically on Alfred Stieglitz and his circle.
A movement in which art became infused with exaggerated sensitivity and a spooky mysticism. It was a continuation of the Romantic tradition, which included such artists as John Henry Fuseli and Caspar David Friedrich. The Symbolists mined mythology and dream imagery for a visual language of the soul. More a philosophical approach than an actual style of art, they influenced their contemporaries in the Art Nouveau movement and Les Nabis. The leading Symbolists included Gustave Moreau, Puvis de Chavannes, and Odilon Redon.
Russian Symbolism - (1884-c. 1910):Intellectual and artistic movement predominant at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. It represented the Russian branch of the symbolist movement in European art, and was mostly known for its contributions to Russian poetry.
Æstheticism (or the æsthetic Movement) (1868-1901), United Kingdom:Supporting the emphasis of aesthetic values more than social-political themes for literature, fine art, music and other arts. It was particularly prominent in Europe during the 19th century. It was related to other movements such as symbolism or decadence represented in France, or decadentismo represented in Italy, and may be considered the British version of the same style. Artists associated with the Aesthetic style include James McNeill Whistler, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Aubrey Beardsley.
Began in France; an approach to art in which subjects are depicted in as straightforward a manner as possible, without idealizing them and without following rules of formal artistic theory. The earliest Realist work began to appear in the 18th century, in a reaction to the excesses of Romanticism and Neoclassicism. This is evident in John Singleton Copley's paintings, and some of the works of Goya. But the great Realist era was the middle of the 19th century, as artists became disillusioned with the artifice of the Salons and the influence of the Academies. Realism came closest to being an organized movement in France, inspiring artists such as Camille Corot, Jean-Francois Millet and the Barbizon School of landscape painters. Besides Copley, American Realists included the painters Thomas Eakins, and Henry Ossawa Tanner, both of whom studied in France. French Realism was a guiding influence on the philosophy of the Impressionists. The Ashcan School artists, the American Scene painters, and, much later, on the Contemporary Realists are all following the American Realist tradition. Realism came closest to being an organized movement in France, inspiring artists such as Corot and Millet, and engendering the Barbizon School of landscape painting. Besides Copley, American Realists included Thomas Eakins, and Henry Ossawa Tanner, both of whom also received formal training in France.
The Barbizon School - (c. 1830-1870), France:
A group of landscape artists working in the area of the French town of Barbizon, south of Paris. They rejected the Academic tradition, abandoning theory in an attempt to achieve a truer representation of life in the countryside, and are part of the French Realist movement. Theodore Rousseau (not to be confused with naive artist Henri Rousseau) is the best-known member of the group. Other prominent members included Constant Troyon and Charles-Francois Daubigny. Realist painters Jean-Francois Millet and Camille Corot are also sometimes loosely associated with this school. The Barbizon School artists are often considered to have sown the seeds of Modernism with their individualism, and were the forerunners of the Impressionists, who took a similar philosophical approach to their art.
The origins of British Orientalist 19th-century painting owe more to religion than military conquest or the search for plausible locations for naked women. Although artists of all modern and early modern artistic periods have looked to the Middle East for inspiration, the 19th century saw a dramatic increase in representations of the region. This imagery persisted in art into the early 20th century, as evidenced in Matisse's orientalist semi-nudes from his Nice period, and his use of Oriental costumes and patterns. The Orientalist trend exemplifies the Romantic artists’ interest in subjects perceived to be decadent, luxurious and mysterious. The paintings are often large, elaborate and filled with dramatic lighting and poses. Some of the Orientalist painters were William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), Richard Dadd (1817-1886), David Roberts (1796-1864), James Tissot (1836-1902), David Wilkie (1785-1841), Thomas Allom 1804-1872, John Frederick Lewis 1804-1876, Frederick Goodall 1822-1904, and Benjamin Constant 1845-1902.
Impressionism is a light, spontaneous manner of painting which began in France as a reaction against the restrictions and conventions of the dominant Academic art. Its naturalistic and down-to-earth treatment of its subject matter, most commonly landscapes, has its roots in the French Realism of Camille Corot and others. The movement's name was derived from Claude Monet's early work, Impression: Sunrise, which was singled out for criticism by Louis Leroy upon its exhibition. The hallmark of the style is the attempt to capture the subjective impression of light in a scene. The core of the earliest Impressionist group was made up of Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Others associated with this period were Camille Pissarro, Frederic Bazille, Edgar Degas, Gustave Caillebotte, Edouard Manet, and the American Mary Cassatt. The Impressionist style was probably the single most successful and identifiable "movement" ever, and is still widely practiced today. But as an intellectual school it faded towards the end of the 19th century, branching out into a variety of successive movements which are generally grouped under the term Post-Impressionism.
American Impressionism - (1880), United States:
A style of painting related to European Impressionism and practiced by American artists in the United States during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. American Impressionism is a style of painting characterized by loose brushwork and vivid colors. Notable American impressionists: Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844-1926), John H. Twachtman, 1853-1902).
Cos Cob Art Colony - (1890s), United States:
A group of artists, many of them American Impressionists, who gathered in and around Cos Cob, a section of Greenwich, Connecticut, from about 1890 to about 1920. Artists associated with the Cos Cob Art Colony include Leonard Ochtman, Mina Fonda Ochtman, Dorothy Ochtman, Edward Clark Potter, Emil Carlsen, George Wharton Edwards, and Kerr Eby.
Heidelberg School - (late 1880s), Australia:
Australian art movement of the late 19th century. The movement has latterly been described as Australian Impressionism.
En plein air is a French term meaning ‘in the open air’. It is used to describe the practice of working out of doors, rather than in the studio. The practice of making oil sketches en plein air extends back at least to Claude Lorrain in the seventeenth century, but it became more widespread in the nineteenth century. At this time, concurrent with the fashion for pursuing leisure in the countryside, many artists began to make small, rapidly executed paintings en plein air to record transient light and colour effects in the landscape. Well-known artists who adopted this practice include John Constable (1776-1837), who worked in the Suffolk countryside in England, and the artists of the Barbizon School, including Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875), who worked in the rural countryside in the south of France. The plein-air oil sketches made by these artists were regarded as prepratory work for larger scale, more highly finished paintings made in the studio. It was not until the later nineteenth century that oil sketches made en plein air were valued and exhibited as finished paintings in their own right. Traditional forms of landscape painting tended to be characterised by dramatic subject matter and views incorporating historical or mythological references, formally structured compositions clearly defined forms and detail, and a smooth, highly finished paint surface. By contrast, the plein-air landscape painting is often associated with a ‘truth to nature’ doctrine, and tends to focus on intimate views and everyday scenes. The subject matter, including atmospheric effects, is often described in broad areas of colour and tone, using rapid, obvious brushstrokes that give the painting a fresh, informal quality.
Plein-air painting became one of the most important movements in western art in the nineteenth century. During the 1870s and 1880s, progressive art studios in Paris, such as at Cormon’s and Julian’s, attracted students from around the world, and played an important role in encouraging the practice of working en plein air. Important artists’ colonies for plein-air painting were established outside Paris and at St. Ives and Newlyn in England, Glasgow in Scotland and in several places in South America.
A term coined by French art critic Félix Fénéon in 1886, to describe an art movement founded by Georges Seurat, (French, 1859-1891). A movement in painting which was an outgrowth of and reaction to Impressionism. Seurat employed a technique called *pointillism (* also called divisionism, or confettiism), based on the scientific juxtaposition of touches or dots of pure color. The brain blends the colors automatically in the involuntary process of optical mixing. Other neo-impressionists include Camille Pissaro (French, 1830-1903), Paul Signac (French, 1863-1935), Theodoor van Rysselberghe (Belgian, 1862-1926), and Henry Edmond Cross (French, 1856-1910).
Divisionism (also called Chromoluminarism):
The characteristic style in Neo-Impressionist painting defined by the separation of colors into individual dots or patches which interacted optically. Artists whose theories of light or color had some impact on the development of divisionism include Charles Henry, Charles Blanc, David Pierre Giottino Humbert de Superville, David Sutter, Michel Eugène Chevreul, Ogden Rood and Hermann von Helmholtz.
Pointillism - (1880's), France:
A form of painting in which tiny dots of primary-colors are used to generate secondary colors. It is an offshoot of Impressionism, and is usually categorized as a form of Post-Impressionism. It is very similar to Divisionism, except that where Divisionism is concerned with color theory, Pointillism is more focused on the specific style of brushwork used to apply the paint. The term "Pointillism" was first used with respect to the work of Georges Seurat, and he is the artist most closely associated with the movement. The relatively few artists who worked in this style also included Paul Signac and Henri-Edmond Cross. Pointillism is considered to have been an influence on Fauvism. Notable artists: Camille Pissarro (French: 1830-1903), Georges-Pierre Seurat (French: 1859-1891).
An umbrella term that encompasses a variety of artists who were influenced by Impressionism but took their art in other directions. There is no single well-defined style of Post-Impressionism, but in general it is less idyllic and more emotionally charged than Impressionist work. The classic Post-Impressionists are Paul Gauguin, Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Rousseau and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The Pointillists and Les Nabis are also generally included among the Post-Impressionists.
Les Nabis - (1891-1899), France:
A group of Post-Impressionist artists and illustrators in Paris who became very influential in the field of graphic art. Their emphasis on design was shared by the parallel Art Nouveau movement. Both groups also had close ties to the Symbolist painters. The core of Les Nabis was Pierre Bonnard, Ker Xavier Roussel, Felix Vallotton, Maurice Denis and Edouard Vuillard.
Cloisonnism - (c. 1885 or 1888), France:
Style of post-Impressionist painting with bold and flat forms separated by dark contours. The term was coined by critic Edouard Dujardin on the occasion of the Salon des Indépendants, in March 1888. Artists Émile Bernard, Louis Anquetin, Paul Gauguin, Paul Sérusier, and others started painting in this style in the late 19th century. The name evokes the technique of cloisonné, where wires (cloisons or "compartments") are soldered to the body of the piece, filled with powdered glass, and then fired. Many of the same painters also described their works as Synthetism, a closely related movement.
Synthetism - (late 1880s-early 1890s), France:
A term used by post-Impressionist artists like Paul Gauguin, Émile Bernard and Louis Anquetin to distinguish their work from Impressionism. Earlier, Synthetism has been connected to the term Cloisonnism, and later to Symbolism. The term is derived from the French verb synthétiser (to synthesize or to combine so as to form a new, complex product). Paul Gauguin, Émile Bernard, Louis Anquetin, and others pioneered the style during the late 1880s and early 1890s.
Fauvism grew out of Pointillism and Post-Impressionism, but is characterized by a more primitive and less naturalistic form of expression. Paul Gauguin's style and his use of color were especially strong influences. The artists most closely associated with Fauvism are Albert Marquet, Andre Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck and Henri Matisse. Fauvism was a short-lived movement, but was a substantial influence on some of the Expressionists.
Art Nouveau is an elegant decorative art style characterized by intricate patterns of curving lines. Its origins somewhat rooted in the British Arts and Crafts Movement of William Morris, Art Nouveau was popular across Europe and in the United States as well. Leading practitioners included Alphonse Mucha, Aubrey Beardsley, Gustav Klimt and the American glassmaker Louis Comfort Tiffany. Art Nouveau remained popular until around the time of World War I, and was ultimately replaced by the Art Deco style.
The Vienna Secession - (1897- ):
(German: Wiener Secession; also known as the Union of Austrian Artists, or Vereinigung Bildender Künstler Österreichs) was formed in 1897 by a group of Austrian artists who had resigned from the Association of Austrian Artists, housed in the Vienna Künstlerhaus. The first president of the Secession was Gustav Klimt, and Rudolf von Alt was made honorary president.
Jugendstil Germany, Scandinavia: (1896- ):
Artistic style that arose near the end of the 19th century in Germany and Austria. Its name was derived from the Munich magazine Die Jugend (Youth), founded in 1896, which featured Art Nouveau designs. Its early phase, primarily floral in character, was rooted in English Art Nouveau and Japanese prints; a more abstract phase emerged after 1900. Primarily a style in architecture and the decorative arts, it also included the great Austrian painter Gustav Klimt.
Modernisme (also known as Catalan modernism) - (1890 to 1910), Spain:
Historiographic denomination given to an art and literature movement. Its main form of expression was in architecture, but many other arts were involved (painting, sculpture, etc.), and especially the design and the decorative arts (cabinetmaking, carpentry, forged iron, ceramic tiles, ceramics, glass-making, silver and goldsmith work, etc.), which were particularly important, especially in their role as support to architecture.
A period of unprecedented excellence in book and magazine illustration. It developed from advances in technology permitting accurate and inexpensive reproduction of art, combined with a voracious public demand for new graphic art. In Europe, Golden Age artists were influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites and by such design-oriented movements as the Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau, and Les Nabis. Leading artists included Walter Crane, Edmund Dulac, Aubrey Beardsley, Arthur Rackham and Kay Nielsen. American illustration of this period was anchored by the Brandywine Valley tradition, begun by Howard Pyle and carried on by his students, who included N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, Frank Schoonover and Edwin Austin Abbey.
The art collections contained herein have been taken from books, library, and internet sources. There may be a possibility some pieces have been named incorrectly; i.e. credited to incorrect painter. Please allow for human error and if you would like, you may contact me with corrections. Webmaster.