Art in the Victorian Era

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Art in the Victorian Era

The Victorian era was an age of peace and prosperity in Great Britain

The Victorian style is developed mainly in Great Britain during the reign of Queen Victoria who became queen at the age of 18 years old This movement takes place during the peak of the Industrial Revolution in this moment the science as well as every other aspect of the society were suffering big changes with technological advances and a loss on the moral and religious values This brought a search of rising the social dignity and tried to integrate all the arts in this harmonious and beautiful environment The Victorian Era begins in 1837 and ends by the beginning of the 20th Century

The Victorian art is eclectic it gathers the best of other styles coming back to the Medieval It uses richly ornamented objects and it has a taste for the naturalist inspired motifs with great excess and saturation on the forms A great interest for the daily spaces emerges specially the dining room for being a meeting point The medieval themes are frequently used full of knights and damsels and comes back to the representation of religious scenes

Regarding to the painting the Victorian era is a cult to the classical beauty to counter the ugly modern world result of an industrial revolution where several topics are used from the religious to the historical and where the representation of women is recurrent

During the Victorian era several artists tried to imitate the big former artists previous the Industrial Revolution The preRaphaelite movement is one of the most important of this period formed by Dante Gabriel Rosetti William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais mainly The preRaphaelite tried to fight the teaching on the academies and all the bad that the Industrial Revolution brought wanting to recover a more spontaneous art searching for inspiration on the natural looking up to the big Reinassance artists The Lady of Shalott painted in 1888 by John William Waterhouse is a representative painting of this time This oil on canvas is held nowadays at the Tate in London This painting tells the story of Elena the lady of Shalott who was confined in a tower where she wove day and night One day a whisper announced that a terrible curse will await her if she ever looked at Camelot In this painting we see Elena in a boat on her way to Camelot The artist shows us a defenceless young lady wearing a white tunic She seems exhausted a woman who has assumed her faith and her death with a lost gaze and her arms lay in a surrender position In the boat Elena is carrying some of her fabrics in these fabrics we can observe the adventures of the Knights of the Round Table as well as the love she feels for Lancelot The English landscape on the background is reduced to simple strokes The rich colours and details are used to highlight the central figure Waterhouse gives importance to the atmosphere giving less importance to the design It is a composition of isolation and despair Waterhouse creates a balance in the composition by opposing the pale figure of the woman on one side of the painting with the horizon on the other He uses warm and autumnal colours maybe as a symbolism of Elenas imminent death Waterhouse captures a sense of sorrow giving Elena a bewildered look a woman with no control in her life a possible nod to the political power of women at the time

Victorian society was especially harsh on its female subjects particularly regarding issues of sexuality and chastity For instance Augustus Eggs oil Misfortune caused a big shock when it was shown for the first time in 1858 at the Royal Academy This painting is part of a triptych which tells us the story of an infidelity and the consequences it had for a woman at the time The subject of this painting was not only controversial but contemporary and topical The scene happens in the living room the husband is holding a letter evidence of his wifes affair He is looking to his wife who is laying on the floor she is wearing two brace

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