Yearning and desire – for a loved one, an unrequited love, a way of life long gone – underlies many of the paintings in Victorian Tales of Love and Enchantment.
During the 19th century, exploration and archaeological discoveries illustrated much about ancient cultures. These led to the development of a new movement – Aestheticism – focusing on beauty for its own sake, rather than for historical narrative. Other artists were fascinated by the mystique surrounding the great queens of antiquity and the heroes of mythology.
Scenes of modern life were equally popular. Painting was a powerful tool, a writer in The Athenium noting, 'It is our firm conviction that the artist's pencil has done more to create sympathy and consideration for those whose fortunes and sufferings have been its theme, than a host of pamphleteers could have worked.'
While industrial development ultimately brought massive wealth to Britain, Death, the great leveller, waited in the wings whether you were rich or poor. Lovers separated by death longed for the joyous renewal awaiting them in the next world; the tragic demise of romantic figures from the past creating a powerful link with the present.
- Curated by
- Mary Kisler
- Mezzanine level
- Free entry