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The New Painting of the 1860s: Between the Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetic Movement (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art the Paul Mello)by Allen Staley
Synopses & Reviews
This handsome volume is the first authoritative survey of one of the most intriguing periods of British art—the radically innovative decade of the 1860s. The book explores new developments in English painting of this period, focusing on the early work of Edward Burne-Jones, Frederic Leighton, Albert Moore, Edward Poynter, Simeon Solomon, and James McNeill Whistler, as well as on paintings by Frederick Sandys and the older G. F. Watts, and by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his Pre-Raphaelite colleagues Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais.
Allen Staley argues that engagement in the decorative arts, particularly by Burne-Jones, Moore, and Poynter at the outset of their careers, led to a transcending of traditional expectations of painting, making abstract formal qualities, or beauty for beauty's sake, the main goal. Rather than being about what it depicts, the painting itself becomes its own subject. The New Painting of the 1860s examines the interplay among the artists and the shared ambitions underlying their works, giving impetus to what would soon come to be known as the Aesthetic Movement.
In the London circles of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Frederic Leighton, the notion of art for art's sake” became a shared concern: if art is not created for the sake of preaching a moral lesson, or supporting a political cause, or making a fortune, or any other objective, what might art be? Art historian Elizabeth Prettejohn traces the emergence of the debates over this issue in the 1860s and 1870s, focusing especially on the Rossetti, Whistler, Leighton, and other protagonists of the Aesthetic Movement and their paintings—some of the most haunting and memorable images in modern art. The English painters' search for the formula to best express the idea of art for art's sake” was a unified and powerful artistic undertaking, Prettejohn demonstrates, and the Aesthetic Movement made important contributions to the history of modern art.
William Powell Frith (1819-1909) was the greatest British painter of the social scene since Hogarth. His panoramas of nineteenth-century life broke new ground in their depiction of the diverse London crowd, and they are now icons of their age. Friths popularity in his lifetime was unprecedented; on six separate occasions special railings had to be built at the Royal Academy to protect his paintings from an admiring public.
Derby Day and The Railway Station are nearly as well known today as a century ago, yet the artist who painted them is now neglected. This book explores Frith's place in the development of Victorian painting: the impact of his unconventional private life on his work, his relationships with Hogarth and Dickens, his influence on popular illustration, the place of costume in his paintings, his female models, his painting materials and practice, and much more. The book makes an important contribution to the literature on art in the Victorian era and to our understanding of the nineteenth century.
About the Author
Mark Bills is curator of the Watts Gallery, Compton, England. He was formerly curator of paintings, prints and drawings at the Museum of London. Vivien Knight is curator of Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London, which holds a fine collection of Victorian paintings.
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Arts and Entertainment » Art » 16th to 19th Century