The artistic movement known as Victorian Classicism emerged in the 19th century during a period in which there was great public interest in the lost civilisations of Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. The expansion of the railway system allowed people to travel further to see the ancient remnants of a classical past such as Hadrian’s Wall or the popular Roman towns of Bath and Cirencester. This increased social interest and fascination with the ancient world naturally infiltrated the art world and thus the Victorian Classicism movement was born.
This course will introduce you to the four major artists associated with the Victorian Classicism movement, and their most famous paintings. This course is a perfect supplement to our course on Art Historiography, and would suit anyone thinking of applying to study an art-related subject at university.
During the course, students will…
By the end of the course, students will be able to…
This tutorial will introduce the topic of Victorian Classicism through focussing on the four most prominent artists: Albert Moore, Frederic Leighton, Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Edward Poynter, examining the relationships between the artists and their excursions to archaeological sites. The tutorial will look at some artists’ emphasis on aesthetic appeal over historical accuracy (including anachronisms such as the misplacement of artefacts), compared with other artists’ favouring historic “truths” (through painting accurately from objects such as the Elgin Marbles).
This tutorial will examine the modern viewer’s and the Victorian viewer’s discomfort contemplating the past through art. Lawrence Alma-Tadema once said: ‘There is not such a great difference between the ancients and the moderns as we are apt to suppose. This is the truth that I have always endeavoured to express in my pictures, that the old Romans were human flesh and blood like ourselves, moved by the same passions and emotions.’ Alma-Tadema’s identification of the affinities between Roman and Victorian culture provides some discomfort, particularly as the ‘passions and emotions’ that they are deemed to share resulted in eruptions of violence in Roman times.
This tutorial will encourage students to think about women’s position within Victorian Classicism in relation to broader 19th century gender concerns. Paintings of languorous women seemingly free from responsibility are a contentious concept for a Victorian viewer. Their lack of activity positions the women both at the height of luxury and in an obscure realm of purposelessness – why have they been painted if not merely to advocate beauty? Can the painting be justified if it serves no moral purpose? Victorians were advised to search for a ‘higher aim’ when viewing art – yet these paintings do not engage with such beliefs.
This tutorial will examine some of the artists’ most prominent works. All four artists’ painted depictions of Greek and Roman myths; this section will look at the popularity of such works, in particular the use of the nude, and examine why such myths merited being retold during the Victorian period. The tutorial will also examine a female artists, Henrietta Rae’s, painting of a female nude in the classical theme, challenging restrictions prohibiting women from drawing from live models in the Academy Schools.
|Course Pre-requisites||Advanced/fluent level of EnglishEnthusiasm for the Art and History of the Victorian era|
|Course Level||For students applying/thinking of applying to university to study Art, History or related subjects|
|Prior Knowledge||No prior knowledge is required to take this course, just enthusiasm for the subject|
|Workload||4-6 hours (further independent study is encouraged)|