19th Century Academic European Paintings by

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19th Century Academic European Paintings

French and Victorian

1849-1900

by Kara Lysandra Ross

Introduction

1
Academic refers to art coming out of the academy and atelier schools i.e. the Royal Academy Schools in England, Academy Julian in France, etc.
It is not possible to understand 19th century art without looking at the types of paintings exhibited at the Paris Salons in France and the Royal Academy Exhibitions in England. The main form of art being produced by artists in the 19th century has, in the period since World War II, been grouped together as Academic (meaning from the Academy Schools) 1 , even though in their own day they thought of themselves differently and divided themselves into many movements that will be discussed in this chapter. These academic works were by far the vast majority of what was being done at the time since, with very few exceptions, career artists studied at academy schools and/or ateliers that taught the skill-based techniques utilized in these types of paintings. They were codifying the ideas of freedom and liberty that emerged in the 18th century and in many cases were expressing freedom of speech, exposing the plight of the poor to call for social reform, venerating the lower classes, and in general, a love of humanity and the common man.

In many art books throughout the twentieth century the academic paintings discussed in this chapter were often referred to as the art of the bourgeoisie. It is an elitist type of terminology used by writers emerging from the onset of modernism in the early twentieth century to insult the work of the Academic painters that the modernists were rebelling against. The term was embraced by the Modernist movement and remained dominant throughout the twentieth century in critical discourse. The term is still used among modernists today, though in the twenty-first century there is a growing body of scholars who have gained some distance from the Modernist movement of the twentieth century and recognize the term as invalid.

In the twenty first century we can see how this term is insulting to the common man because in this context, calling the art ‘bourgeoisie art’ is stating that the newly growing middle class, since they had just emerged from poverty themselves, was uncultured and had bad taste. The term bourgeoisie art literally means middle class art. Ironically the term as it is still used by modernists today has been interpreted to mean that the paintings of this period were only painted for those wealthy enough to afford them. For this reason the term bourgeoisie is often misunderstood by students to mean the upper class, but in fact, when used to talk about nineteenth century paintings, it is meant as a direct attack on the middle class. The art referred to as the art of the bourgeoisie was not only collected by the middle class but also by the upper class and aristocracy. Although the lower class could not afford original paintings, many still purchased prints of these works and other forms of reproductions that existed at the time. The term also implies that the middle class was wealthy, when in fact they were only relatively wealthy when compared to the poor, but not wealthy when compared to the aristocracy. Just as with any commerce, artists need to be able to sell their work to make a living and since the purchase of art is a luxury item, the originals tend to be purchased by those with extra money to spend. This is as true of realist-based work as it is for modernist work. This does not mean that the images created and disseminated to the people were not loved by the lower class every bit as much as the wealthy.

Art is created as a reflection of society. It inseminates and is inseminated by the world in which a people live and breathe. When one thinks of cultures throughout history, the images and thoughts that come to mind are of their paintings, sculptures, literature, music, architecture, clothing and cuisine. Just as society shapes art, art helps shape a people and in the late nineteenth century academic art was predominant. Artists paint and sculpt to express themselves, to make statements, and to communicate thoughts, values and ideas to the population as a whole. This chapter examines the most important and influential academic painters of the second half of the nineteenth century and the schools and movements in which these painters taught and emerged.

Henry-Jules-Jean Geoffroy (French, 1853-1924)
Oil on canvas, 1901
110.5 cm x 150cm (43 1/2 x 59 in)
Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France
Augustus Edwin Mulready (British, 1844—1904)
Uncared For
Oil on canvas, 1871
101 x 76 cm (39 3/4 x 29 15/16 in)
Charles West Cope (English, 1811-1890)
Oil on panel , 1871
147.3 x 97.8 cms | 57 3/4 x 38 1/2 ins

2
This liberalization of the Paris Salon was in reaction to the French Revolution that occurred in 1848, sometimes referred to as the February Revolution.
3
Victoria and Albert Museum Website.
In the 1800s political and social upheavals, which were inspired by the American and French revolutions, spread across Europe. Because of this, the art of the nineteenth century was very different in the first half than it was in the second. The world of the Paris Salons and the types of works shown were liberalized in 1849 2 and there was a transformation in thinking amongst artists at this time. In England, there was the birth of the middle class that emerged from industrialization that had started at the end of the eighteenth century. “Although the first decades of the nineteenth century were marked by wars, financial crises and social unrest, Britain's industrial base continued to grow, fuelled by the rapid expansion of international trade. Between 1809 and 1839 imports nearly doubled from £28.7 million to £52 million, while over the same period exports tripled, from £25.4 million to £76 million.” 3

4
Cameron, France and the Economic Development of Europe, 67. [because this is not in bibliography, give entire citing; with place of publishing, publisher, and date]
5
This is referencing some of the most famous history artists of the first half of the 19th century such as Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault (1791-1824), and Paul Delaroche (1797-1856).
The middle class in France also grew between 1815—1847 when “Improvements in transportation and communication, including extensive canal building, improvement of natural waterways, the introduction of steam navigation, the first railways and the electric telegraph facilitated the growth of both domestic and foreign commerce.” 4 Because of this strong economic and ideological shift, the figurative art from the first half of the century tended to focus more on history 5 where as the later half focused on everyday life and popular fiction. With the newly acquired freedom to paint subjects other then historical, religious, portraiture and the aristocracy there was an explosion of new subject matter.

Just as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel and other masters of the past brought to life scenes from the bible, the later nineteenth century masters not only addressed the social concerns of the time, but were bringing to life scenes from the poems of Alfred Lord Tennyson, and the stories of Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, Shakespeare, and ancient Greek and Roman subject mater. It is also important to remember that during the 1840s and 50s photography was in its infancy and the cinema half a century away. Paintings, drawings and etchings were created as the primary form of visual communication throughout the era.

Julien Dupré (French, 1851-1910)
The Balloon
Oil on canvas, 1887
242.5 x 200.7 cm (95 1/2 x 79 in.)
John William Waterhouse (English, 1849-1917)
Oil on canvas , 1915
100 x 74 cms | 39 1/4 x 29 ins
Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Netherlands, 1836-1912)
Oil on canvas , 1888
132.1 x 213.9 cms | 52 x 84 ins

The Classical and Academic Method Style of Study

Whether in France, England, Germany, Italy, Spain, America or anywhere in the modern world during the 1800s, the entire nature and way in which art was taught was in direct contrast to the way art was taught in the majority of schools in the twentieth century and still in most cases today. This shift from academic to modernist training did not come from what would be considered technical advancements in art materials or training, but a complete philosophical change in the concept of what art is all about. As part of this philosophical change, Academy style training techniques and the great artists who had mastered them were virtually erased from the art and art history that was taught in public schools during the twentieth century. However, just as with much of history, the pendulum swings both ways. Starting in earnest around 1995 there has been a recent surge to recapture the techniques utilized by academy trained artists which is still working its way into school systems and a growing interest in the academic work of the nineteenth century, the last century to fully embrace the Renaissance paradigm.

This academy method of training in the nineteenth century was a full time endeavor only taken on by those who were serious and wished to be artists as a full time career; it was not considered an extra-curricular activity. It was a way of life and all encompassing. This rigorous training method would usually be a four or five-year full time program. The first one or two years would be dedicated solely to drawing. Students would start with simple concepts such as notional space (notating the general boundaries of the items one wishes to depict so that they fit properly on the paper or canvas in advance of starting work), then the depiction of rational space and lighting through drawing primary shapes in a still-life, next would be sight-size (a method by which artists could measure to make sure they are depicting the desired object at the exact same size on paper as it is in life), and then move on to pencil or charcoal cast drawings (taking 3D objects that are naturally in shades of gray to eliminate the complexity of color and translating them into 2D accurately to give the appearance of the 3D object even though it is actually D2 when on paper.

6
Scientific color was not taught in the academies before the 1870s because the color wheel was only invented in the 1860s.
After students mastered this they would then move onto anatomy, which included muscular and skeletal drawings, and life drawing, that would be done from a live, generally nude model, who would hold long and short poses. Unlike most art schools today who offer life drawing where a long pose is an hour, long poses in the 19th century would go for days or weeks with the model taking breaks but returning to retake the same pose over and over again so that students had time to perfect their drawing and deepen their insight to hidden nuances. They did not to stop until they obtain the correct contour lines without which the form could never be drawn correctly. It was only after the skill of drawing was mastered that students would be allowed to work in paint and color. Students would now need to relearn what they had learned in drawing, but in the new medium of paint which included understanding terms like tone (a color mixture that is not a pure color hue), and chroma, (color saturation). 6 They would also study the essentials of a scumble, (a thin, opaque layer of paint to give a softer effect) and glazing, (a light transparent layer of paint over an underlying opaque layer) intended to give depth and richness.

Modernist ideology, even in its infancy during the 19th century, criticized the atelier methods because they observed that any student’s work tended to look the same as all the other graduating students when the student had finished the program. This was taken as a sign that the artist’s natural voice had been altered to match the voices of others or of their teachers. However, when something is accurately depicted it will look the same as the original object. So when someone has learned this method and has only done student work, the work will naturally look quite similar. It was only after the skills had been learned that an atelier or academy student could start creating their own original work and develop their own voice. This generally occurs in their last year with a diploma painting or exhibition and often was not fully achieved until several years of professional experience.

Academy training is skill-based in the visual fine arts and just like teaching rhythm, tempo, and scales in music class, so that a student has the basic abilities to then compose his or her own music, by learning solid draftsmanship, color theory, paint handling and perspective, students can expand their own abilities to visually express themselves and create their own unique artwork. It was considered important that artists not be held back by the inability to execute a painting in the manner they wished simply because they did not have the necessary training and acquired skills to do so.

Luke Fildes (British, 1843-1927)
Study of a plaster cast of a sculptural fragment
Pencil on paper, 1863
Victoria Albert Museum
William Edward Frost (British, 1810-1877)
Study of a skeleton
Pencil on paper, c.1829
Victoria Albert Museum
John Constable (British, 1810-1877)
Study of a male nude
Pencil on paper, c.1801
Victoria Albert Museum

Female Artists of the 19th Century

As you will read later on in this chapter, academy and atelier schools were first open to women artists in the later half of the 19th century. Because of this there were hundreds of women who were finally able to get formalized training. Although there were still a majority of male artists there were many female artists who established successful careers in both France and England during this period. Many of the most successful were related or married to the famous male artists of the day, though there were others that independently gained appreciation.

7
McCabe, Lida Rose "Madame Bouguereau at Work", Il 694.
Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau (1837-1922), who’s work, if ever mentioned, is often accused of too closely resembling that of her husband, the famous William Bouguereau . This was a criticism that originated during her lifetime. She became quite well known during her day and her response to this accusation was “ I know I am criticized for not more boldly asserting my individuality, but I would rather be known as the best imitator of Bouguereau than nobody!” 7 Clearly Gardner felt that having to suffer the criticism that her work was too similar to that of the most famous and beloved artist of the time was preferable to not being discussed at all. Although her painting technique does closely resemble the skilled hand of her husband, she does in fact have a body of stunning works, many of which express her unique voice and give her work a degree of separation.

Her painting of The Farmer’s Daughter is a prime example. Paintings such as this have been misinterpreted by many twentieth century scholars as unrealistically idealizing peasants as a way for wealthy people to justify not supplying more aid to the poor. They were thought to be unrealistic for not showing hardened and dirty peasants as the work of some of the naturalists did. However, it is highly insulting and ignorant to say that all poor peasants were dirty, unattractive and lived the life of drudgery. In fact, some of them modeled for this artist. In reality this painting is about the joy of life.

A young beauty stands among a group of barnyard chickens on a perfect, sunny, day. She looks down at her hens with a mischievous glance as she teasingly lets the golden grains fall from her fingers a few at a time. The birds gather round looking up at their loving care keeper and playfully at the viewer, eagerly anticipating the arrival of their feast. This painting reminds the viewer to take pleasure in the simple things, to keep life in perspective, and to enjoy one's day to day existence. The Farmer’s Daughter, was first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1887 and then again at the Exposition Universelle in 1889.

Oil on canvas
170.1 x 97.4 cms | 66 3/4 x 38 1/4 ins

Elizabeth Southerden Thompson (1846—1933) was one of the most famous female painters of the day, whose name was known throughout the whole of England and its colonies. She was one of the first female artists to achieve fame in painting military and historical subject matter. She traveled abroad and studied with Giuseppe Bellucce in Florence and Rome, before finally taking some instruction at the South Kensington School of Art, London. Her reputation was sealed when her painting of Roll Call was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1874, and was promptly purchased by Queen Victoria. The painting still remains in the Royal Collection.

8
The De Morgan Foundation, William and Evelyn de Morgan, 2010.
Evelyn de Morgan (1855-1919) was an important second generation Pre-Raphaelite and the niece of Spencer Stanhope . She is one of the few female followers of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Coley Burne-Jones , her work having closer ties to that of the later. De Morgan started study at the Slade School of Fine Art in 1873, only 2 years after the school opened, before traveling abroad to Italy in 1875 for 2 years. She was married in 1887 to William de Morgan, the famous potter and designer, who shared in her love of art as well as her political and spiritual beliefs. A close friend of the de Morgan family was quoted as saying “It is indeed unusual to find two people so gifted, so entirely in harmony in their art, who acted and reacted on each other’s genius. Their romance is one before which the pen falters”. 8

9
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Pre-Raphaelite online resource, artist biography section, Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale.
Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale (1871-1945) was a well-respected illustrator and painter of her day. In 1896, she created a lunette titled Spring, which was used in the Royal Academy Dining Room. In 1902, she had the honor of becoming the first female member of the Institute of Painters in Oils. 9 She illustrated many books such as Poems by Tennyson, 1905, W.M. Canton, Story of St. Elizabeth of Hungry, 1912, and Calthorp, A Diary of an 18th Century Garden, 1926, to name a few. In 1919, Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale’s Golden Book of Famous Women was published by Hodder & Stoughton, which was a compilation of stories about some of the most famous women in history and legend as written by some of the most famous authors in history such as William Shakespeare, Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, and John Keats among others. Although this book contains no introduction to explain whose inspiration it was to put the book together or who chose the content, it seems clear from the title that Brickdale must have been the mastermind behind it. Her works are always styled in the manner of the Pre-Raphaelites such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti or William Holman Hunt, using vibrant jewel like colors and representative 19th century subject matter. Take for example her allegorical painting titled, The Power of the Poet, which illustrates the power of poetry and music over not only the mortal, but immortal would as well. The poet, with his mandolin, has seduced the angel to open the door and let him in. The keys still dangle from the angel’s fingertips.

10
Interview with Dr. Vern Swanson, world authority on Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and John William Godward , August 9, 2014.
Lady Laura Teresa Alma-Tadema (1852—1909) took some drawing instruction with Ford Madox Brown , before starting study with Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema , who fell immediately in love with her beautiful hair and genteel demeanor. Lady Alma-Tadema was very much influenced by the 17th century Dutch interior painters such as Jan Van Mieris and Gabriel Metsu . Most of her paintings were staged and painted in her studio that was furnished with authentic antique Dutch furniture and wall paneling, something that pleased her husband because of his Dutch heritage. One such painting is The Persistent Reader. This chef-d'oeuvre depicts a well-dressed couple indoors on a beautiful day. The woman, who has gotten herself done up and is ready, hat in hand, for a romantic stroll, is staring impatiently at her companion. One can tell by looking at this scene that the maiden has been waiting for some time and is becoming increasingly aggravated. Her mate continues to read with no immediate intent to stop for a walk, or even a glance, to notice the effort that has been made to attract him. 10

Although these are only a few of the respected female artists of the period, there were many others, though they did not have the same authoritative powers as their male counterparts. Others, such as Rosa Bonheur , Elizabeth Adela Armstrong Forbes , Henrietta Rae , Lucy Kemp-Welch, Sophie Anderson, Marie Spartali Stillman , and Kate Perugini , who was the daughter of Charles Dickens are worthy of considerable study.

Elizabeth Thompson (, 1846-1933)
Oil on canvas
93.3 x 183.5 cms | 36 1/2 x 72 ins
Evelyn de Morgan (English, 1850-1919)
Oil on canvas
106.7 x 157.5 cms | 42 x 61 3/4 ins
Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale (English, 1871-1945)
Watercolor and bodycolor
47.6 x 27.9 cms | 18 3/4 x 11 ins
Laura Theresa Alma-Tadema (English, 1852-1909)
Oil on panel
58.4 x 44.5 cms | 23 x 17 1/2 ins

Nineteenth Century Painting in France

11
Milner, The Studios of Paris, Yale University Press (September 10, 1990), 9
12
The other four distinct constituent academies were as follows: Académie Française, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Académie des Sciences, and Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques.
It is impossible to look at French art in the nineteenth century without examining what is known as the Institut Nationale des Sciences et des Arts, referred to simply as the Institut (Institute), and with it the Academy des Beaux Arts. The Institute was an exclusive body of experts that administered the national affairs of the sciences and the arts. 11 It consisted of five constituent Academies of which the Academy des Beaux Arts, which oversaw developments in, not only painting, but sculpture, architecture and music, was only one of the five. 12 There were 40 members that oversaw the administrative duties of the Academy des Beaux Arts, 14 spots of which were allocated to painters:

13
Milner, The Studios of Paris, 9.
Each new member was appointed by the votes of existing members and approved by the government. Membership was normally for life and appointment to the Academy comprised the highest public honor available specifically to artists. Its influence upon exhibitions, teaching and recognition was far-reaching … the fourteen painters of the institute represented, in terms of professional activity, the top of the tree. 13

The most important names of Institute members as far as both influence and prestige with their own art were: William Bouguereau (1825-1905), Jules Lefèbvre (1836-1911), Jean-Léon Gerôme (1824–1904), Benjamin Constant (1845-1902), León Bonnat (1833-1922), Gustave Moreau (1826-1898), Jules Breton (1827-1906), Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889), Gustave Boulanger (1824-1888), Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891) and his student Edouard Detaille (1848-1912).

Although some of the structure and policies changed from the time the Academy des Beaux Arts (administrative section) and the Ecole des Beaux Arts (actual school) were founded in 1648, from 1819 through 1863, the Academy both appointed professors to the school and also awarded the winners of the Prix de Rome, though Napoleon III gave out the medals of the Paris Salon. The Prix de Rome, awarded to one person each year, was the most prestigious and sought after award by young artists. The prize, depending what year it was awarded in, granted the winner between two and five years of study in Rome and a reputation that guaranteed a successful career.

14
Mansfield, Art History and Its Institutions‬, 329.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
15
Mead and Baltard, Making Modern Paris, 64.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬
The structure remained this way until March 13, 1863, when the superintendent of the fine arts at the time, Comte de Nieuwerkerke, transferred much of the control of the Ecole des Beaux Arts to the imperial government 14 , namely Napoleon III, who issued another decree on November 13 of the same year creating a Conseil d’Enseignement (Board of Education). This Conseil d’Enseignement took over the responsibilities of naming professors to the Ecole des Beaux Arts as well as selecting the 37 jurors who would decide the winner of the Prix des Rome. 15 This was the third attempt the government had made to take much of the power of the school away from the Academy, but just as the other attempts had failed, so too in 1874 a method was introduced so that the Institute artists could again award prizes and diplomas.

As more turmoil ensued, 1878 the power of who got to show in the Paris Salon was turned over to the Société des Artistes Français where artists, not the government or its constituents, selected the pieces to be shown in the Salon from 1881 onward. This constant change in administrative powers stemmed from a discontent with monarchal like authority that started in the years leading up to the French Revolution. This mindset continued even after the Société des Artistes Français was formed, as again there were those unhappy with the artists who held the authority in the Société des Artistes Français. The argument can be made that this continual progression against authority, at least in part, led to the rebellion against the academic way of teaching and the Paris Salons altogether, eventually initiating the rise of modernist ideology.

Gustave Moreau (French, 1826-1898)
Oil on wood
33 x 27.3 cms | 13 x 10 1/2 ins
Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824-1904)
Oil on canvas , 1869
81 x 66 cms | 31 3/4 x 25 3/4 ins
Gustave Boulanger (French, 1824-1884)
Clarence la Cour Du Palais de Dar Khdaouedj El Amia
Oil in canvas, 1877
83.8 x 114.3 cm (33 x 45 in.)

The Paris Salon

16
Stranahan, A History of French Painting, 263.
In 1848 the Salon was held in the Louvre, but many complained that this kept the masterpieces of the museum hidden for long periods each year to make room for the works by the living artists. After convincing the powers that be, that there would be no better place than the Royal Palace of the Tuileries, the Paris Salon was held there. Since it had been vacated by the flight of Louis Philippe and his family, and already possessed large rooms and fine lighting, it was a perfect choice. However, the new republic immediately appropriated 650,000 francs for the erection of the Palais de l’Industrie on the Champs Elyséss and after 1855, the Salon was held there. 16

17
Milner, The Studios of Paris, 47.
18
It was at this point in time that the Salon, which had at one point been hung at the Louvre, was moved to the Palais de Champs Elysées, a change that was formalized in 1884.
The annual Paris Salon was the art event of the year in France and in many ways all of Europe and America. Although it had existed much earlier, it became an annual event starting in 1864 and just as the tumultuous struggles of administrative authority affected the Ecole des Beaux Arts and the Prix de Rome, it also affected who was shown in the Paris Salons from 1864 through 1881, when the Société des Artistes Français was finally given and maintained control over this critically important annual event. 17 18 The Société des Artistes Français increased the access artists had in showing their work in the Salon, which pleased many artists who had previously been dissatisfied with the manor of selection that they felt left them in the lurch. Renoir was recorded noting to his dealer, Durand-Ruel, in 1881 that:

19
Letter from Renoir to Durand-Ruel, reprint, Milner, The Studios of Paris, 48.
I am going to try and explain to you why I exhibit at the Salon. In Paris there are scarcely fifteen collectors capable of liking a painter without the backing of the Salon. And there are another eighty thousand who won’t buy so much as a postcard unless the painter exhibits there. 19

20
Milner, The Studios of Paris, 47.
The Paris Salon drew a huge mass of not only artists, dealers, collectors and scholars, but the public as well. In 1881 for example, 314,302 visitors came to see the Paris Salon. 20 This momentous number reiterates how important the Paris Salon was not only to collectors but to the people as well, as they attended the Salon in droves. It was something of which France as a nation was truly proud.

21
Milner, The Studios of Paris, 47—49.
The organization of the annual Salon was a colossal undertaking involving immense administrative work and the control of considerable sums of money, not to mention the high degree of emotional charge which surrounded the selection and hanging of several thousand works…the total exceeding 8 miles of paintings. In this context the visitors needed real determination and extraordinary physical stamina to see any works other than the most spectacular and celebrated productions. The trials of the Salon Jury may also be imagined: they had, after all, reduced the total of works exhibited from those submitted. 21

22
Bartoli & Ross, William Bouguereau, Life and Works, 339—440
Although it has been said that William Bouguereau , as the most prominent and influential of the French Academic artists, was largely responsible for keeping all the power and glory for him and his artist friends by only allowing their work to be shown at the Paris Salon, it was in fact Bouguereau, who on December 26th of 1890, argued with others against a proposal suggested by other influential artists such as Ernest Louis Meissonier , Puvis de Chavannes , Jules Dalou and Auguste Rodin that works that were chosen by judges of the Universal Exhibition should automatically be accepted into the Salon without the need to be scrutinized by the Société des Artistes Français. 22

23
Auguste Dalligny, 'Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts — l'Exposition du Champ de Mars', Journal des Arts, 16 May 1890. See also Bartoli & Ross, William Bouguereau, Life and Works, 339—340.
24
Bouguereau was vice president of the Société des Artistes Français, and had been since 1881, but on December 26th, 1890, the president was absent and Bouguereau was serving as president that day. Although he tried to reconcile and bring the group back together after the schism took place, and believed he had handled the situation appropriately, he was depressed and upset by the whole experience to the point where he resigned his position, giving up the power he had on this most important of boards.
Since the government organized the Exposition Universale it was felt that this proposal would give the government power again over who got to show at the Salon and limit additional space making it harder for the work of young, yet unrecognized artists to be seen. 23 After tensions that had been brewing for some time mounted into arguments and accusations that Bouguereau, other leading members, and the Academy Julian had too much power and after a vote where the proposal lost 405 to 82, Ernest Meissonier, Puvis de Chavannes, Jules Dalou, Auguste Rodin, Henri Gervex , Dagnan-Bouveret , Albert Besnard , Fantin-Latour and others promptly left the Société des Artistes Français and, in the same year, created their own organization, the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. 24

They then had their own annual Salon, referred to as the Salon du Champ de Mars. This was not a group of Impressionists storming off to create their own organization because their work was not accepted into the Salon. The leader, Meissonier, was a member of the Institute and a traditional artist with tight paint handling and carefully organized and systematically designed compositions, as were most others who left the Société des Artistes Français during this legendary schism. It had nothing at all to do with Impressionists rebelling against the Academics, and everything to do with one group of Academics rebelling against an entrenched group of other Academics for totally different reasons.

25
Bartoli & Ross, William Bouguereau, Life and Works, 341.
The vote that occurred demonstrates that most of the participating artists believed that the main body had the goal of being fair-minded... Those who left to start their own organization were only a small percent of the original body, and were clearly those who perceived their self-interest would be more likely supported in a new organization where they as founders would have much more power. 25

In truth there was much finger pointing at the time in both directions and two sides to the story as there usually are. Both groups claimed to be helping young, unknown artists to show in the Salon but had different ideas of how best to accomplish this.

Ernest Louis Meissonier, the leader of the dissenters, was the antithesis of the Avant-Garde. He was principally known as a military painter with incredibly detailed work. He did large canvases, but also is well known for his cabinet sized paintings, which included seventeenth and eighteenth-century cavaliers. Almost miniatures on occasion, he used such small and precise brushstrokes that one needs a magnifying glass to fully appreciate them. In this sense, he is somewhat reminiscent of 17th Century Dutch masters like Gerrit Dou , Franz Von Meirez and Jan Vermeer .

26
Sotheby’s 19th century European Art, New York, page 18.
In Meissonier’s painting, The Guide, he exemplifies his passions for French military historical subject matter. Depicting a large group of soldiers on horseback, proud and confident, the soldiers in the lead look at the guide with some distain, their swords drawn. It was advised by Colonel de Brack, a French military theorist, for post-revolutionary cavalry to tie a local guide to a soldier’s saddle in case they tried to run and a sword at the ready as a reminder of what would happen if they made the attempt. 26 Meissonier depicts the guide in this picture to be outwardly indifferent to his situation, walking with focused intent and a pipe in hand. The microscopic details in this painting are something that Meissonier was known for, from the individual faces and expressions of the soldiers, to the buttons and buckles on the soldiers uniforms. The moody autumn landscape helps the viewer imagine what it must have been like for both the guide and soldiers.

Henri Gervex (French, 1852-1929)
The Jury for Painting, Salon des Artistes Français
Oil in canvas, 1885
294 x 384 cm (115 3/4 x 151 1/4 in)
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)
Oil on canvas , 1886
215 x 117 cms | 84 1/2 x 46 ins
Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier (French, 1815-1891)
Oil on canvas , 1883
118.8 x 87.6 cms | 46 3/4 x 34 1/4 ins

The French Academies

27
Milner, The Studios of Paris, 11 -12.
Apart from the Ecole des Beaux Arts, there were other important and influential academy schools. Many of them, including the Ecole des Beaux Arts, were either run by members of the institute or had teachers who were members. Among the most important and successful of the schools was the Academy Julian, which had significant power in the Société des Artistes Français, giving it a leading voice as it had the largest number of schools and students. The Academy Julian was founded by Rudolphe Julian in 1868 and by 1873 was accepting both male and female students. The school was so successful that many other franchises of it opened all over Paris. Julian was a student of Alexandre Cabanel . His work had been exhibited at the Salon des Refusés in 1863 and later in the Salon proper, but in 1881 his most prestigious honor was given to him, the Légion d’Honneur, for his role as a teacher. 27 His true skills rested there and not with his personal art. Rudolphe Julian perhaps is best described in a recollection by one of his students,

28
Moore, Confessions of a Young Man, 26.
I found Monsieur Julian, a typical meridional (from southern France): dark eyes, crafty and watchful, a seductively mendacious manner, and a sensual mind. We made friends at once, he consciously making use of me, I unconsciously making use of him. To him my 40 francs, a month’s subscription, were a godsend. 28

29
Bartoli and Ross, William Bouguereau, Life and Works, 223.
30
Gabriel P. Weisberg, page 13. One of the laws that made same sex classes particularly difficult was that it was illegal to have a nude model pose in front of men and woman in the same studio at the same time. From Bartoli and Ross, William Bouguereau, 222.
31
Bartoli and Ross, William Bouguereau, Life and Works, 222 and 515.
The Academy Julian has the important distinction of being the first school to accept female students, and it did so a full 30 years in advance of the Ecole des Beaux Arts. 29 By 1873 Julian had men and woman studying along side each other in the same studio, but after criticism, the suggestion of impropriety, and laws at the time that made mixed-sex classes difficult, he quickly established separate schools for men and woman. 30 This was accomplished with the encouragement of one of Julian’s first students who later became his companion, Amélie Beaury-Saurel, and with the assistance of the prominent artist and Julian’s good friend, William Bouguereau, who was known for painting depictions of feminine strength. 31

32
Bartoli and Ross, William Bouguereau, Life and Works, 310.
William Bouguereau (1825—1905) was the most famous and well-known artist in all of France and his fame extended across Europe and America. He was a known fighter for justice and donated considerable amounts of time to help the poor and the misfortunate. He won almost every honor, award and accolade available to a French painter, starting with the Prix de Rome in 1850. He became a professor at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1875, and was one of the longest serving members of the Institute starting in 1876 till his death in 1905. In 1885 Bouguereau served as President of the Institute presiding over all five of the academies. In this same year Bouguereau was elected president of the benevolent association founded by Baron Taylor, whose goal was to accumulate funds to help support less-fortunate artists and their families. At the funeral of Victor Hugo , the most beloved poet and writer in France, Bouguereau was chosen to give the graveside eulogy as he was as beloved for painting as Hugo was for literature. 32 He was one of the head instructors at the Academy Julian and became the President of the Société des Artistes Français. He was a jury member for the Exposition Universalles of 1889 and 1900 and finally Grand Officer in the in the Légion d’Honneur in 1903.

Bouguereau’s oeuvre was diverse in subject, though he was known primarily for figurative works. His genre paintings can be classified into religious, mythological, nudes, peasants, portraits and scenes of everyday life. He was a tireless worker and on top of family responsibilities and all the administrative duties that came with the various offices he held, Bouguereau painted a total of 828 known finished works, mostly life size canvases and many with multiple figures. This makes Bouguereau one of the most prolific of the academic artists.

Bouguereau had a gift for powerful emotional imagery. In his painting of Premier Deuil (First Mourning) for example, the dead body of Abel lies across Adam's lap in the same manner as Christ is often depicted lying across Mary’s. Adam clutches his heart out of grief and Eve kneels by his side her face buried in her hands. Although this is a religious work, Bouguereau wanted to capture the tangible human experience of losing a child, versus transcendence or holiness. This makes the imagery more accessible to the viewer and evokes a greater sense of compassion. Bouguereau was no stranger to grief and captured the look of death with frightening directness, he having five children, four of whom died before him. First Mourning was painted directly after the death of his second son. This piece is well titled because it is the first time a human has had to suffer the loss of a loved one. Bouguereau used a play on words in titling this work, because not only are Adam and Eve mourning, but dawn approaches. It is the first day in what will be a seemingly endless chain of days they must grieve the loss of not one but two children, as Cain fled after killing his brother in the chapter of Genesis from the Old Testament.

William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)
Oil on canvas , 1888
203 x 252 cms | 79 3/4 x 99 ins

33
Tony Robert-Fleury was the son of another artist who was a member of the Institute, Joseph-Nicolas Robert Fleury.
34
Art Renewal Center page on Jules Joseph Lefebvre
The other most notable teachers at the Academy Julian include Jules Lefebvre , Gustave Boulanger , Tony Robert-Fleury 33 , Jean-Paul Laurens , Benjamin-Constant , Félix Giacomotti , and Gabriel Ferrier . It should be said that Jules Lefebvre’s importance as an artist and teacher cannot be overstated. He is credited for personally instructing hundreds if not thousands of students from all over the world, many who established their own fame and recognition, embracing numerous pupils from America, including more then one of the famous “Boston Ten” American Impressionists. His nudes became so famous that his only rival was considered to be Bouguereau, though he also painted many clothed female figures and a large body of portraits. 34

35
Jim Cheshire, Tennyson Transformed, 49.
In Lefebvre’s painting of Lady Godiva it is easy to see why his work was so prominent. This monumental work standing 6.2 meters (over 20 feet) tall and 3.9 meters wide (almost 13 feet), makes the viewer feel as though they are actually standing in the scene. The legend of Lady Godiva was a popular theme in the nineteenth century and depicted by many artists, especially in England, as the legend, although it can be traced back to the thirteenth century, was re-popularized by the English poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson. 35 In the legend, Lady Godiva, an eleventh century noble women, pleads to her husband, the Earl, to lower the arduous taxes on his subjects in Coventry who will starve if they have to pay. After pleading with her husband bitterly he told her that if she were to ride through the town naked he would abate the taxes.

Although he meant it scornfully, assuming she would never do it, she sent a herald to tell the town to clear the streets and lock the shutters, at which point she then rode naked through the town. All obeyed the command as she was much beloved, except for one man from which the roots of the phrase “peeping Tom” originates, since someone named Tom, tried to peep at her, and was struck blind as he tried to peer at her through a hole he had created in his shutters.

36
The painting was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1890, but was repainted and dated 1891 by the artist.
In Lefebvre’s version of the painting Lady Godiva 36 is in the foreground covering her chest, eyes closed and head raised with an air of stoic transcendence as she martyr’s herself for her people. The purple of the robe beneath her designates royalty, as does her crown and lavish saddle. Her lady in waiting appears nervous as she guides the horse, keeping guard to be sure that no one is watching. Lefebvre’s choice of the road being so steep extenuates the distance and emphasizes the empty street. This also draws attention to the viewer, who then can realize he or she is the only one watching her ride and placed in the position of being the only one to ever witness this legendary scene.

Jules Joseph Lefebvre (French, 1836-1911)
Lady Godiva
Oil in canvas, 1891
620 x 390 cms (20’ 4" x 12’ 8")
Musée de Picardie, Amiens, France

37
Christie’s New York, 19th Century European Art and Orientalist Art, 142.
38
Christie’s New York, 19th Century European Art and Orientalist Art, 142.
In addition to the Academy Julian, both Benjamin Constant and León Bonnat had their own influential schools, though both closed when these two successful artists were appointed to the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Both Benjamin Constant and León Bonnat were members of the Institute and Bonnat became the Director of the Ecole des Beaux Arts in 1905. 37 Benjamin Constant was best known for his Orientalist works and portraits, whereas León Bonnat, although he did do a small number of orientalist works, was best known for his religious scenes and his paintings of Italian peasants. Bonnat had met Jules Lefebvre and Tony Robert-Fleury when he enrolled at the atelier of Léon Cogniet and the three became lifelong friends. Two of his notable students were Henri Matisse and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec . 38

In this León Bonnat painting, The Broken Pitcher, his style and subject matter had become well defined. The young Italian girl stands lost in contemplation with a broken pitcher at her feet. In the 19th century symbolism was very important and there was certain recognizable imagery placed in many paintings that would read as a language by which viewers could gain the intent of the work if not already apparent. A cracked or broken pitcher represented lost virginity and her deep contemplation implies that she may be pregnant out of wedlock; a serious subject matter that affected many young girls at the time as it still does today, though at the time Bonnat was painting there were even harsher social ramifications. The choice of the energetic, almost post-impressionist background should be noted as another important symbolic element. The violent undulating lines create the impression of a circular vortex surrounding her, suggesting the inner turmoil of her emotional state.

Afternoon Languor
Oil in panel, 1891
88 x 70 cm (34 3/4 x 27 3/4 in.)
Leon Bonnat (French, 1833-1922)
Oil on canvas
157.5 x 92.1 cms | 62 x 36 1/4 ins

39
Akerman, The Life and Work of Jean-Léon Gérôme, 168.
40
The J. Paul Getty Museum, The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme, 2010
41
Musée d’Orsay, The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme
Jean-Léon Gérôme , was a student of Paul Delaroche and had his own atelier at the Ecole des Beaux Arts. 39 Gérôme was one of the most recognized artists of his time and was most famous for his orientalist works and very prominent paintings of antiquity, though he also worked as a sculptor. “Jean-Léon Gérôme was among the most officially honored and financially successful French artists of the second half of the nineteenth century. His brilliantly painted and often provocative pictures were at the center of heated debates over the present and future of the great French painting tradition. Reproduced using new photomechanical processes and dispersed across Europe and America, Gérôme's images indelibly marked the popular imagination, directly influencing spectacular forms of mass entertainment, from theater to film.” 40 Like his teacher he “… chose a theatrical approach to history painting, presenting it on a more human level, and using anecdote as a way to make great history accessible.” 41

42
Akerman, Gerald, The Life and Work of Jean-Léon Gérôme, 168.
In one of his most famous paintings, Pollice Verso, (Thumbs Down), Gérôme dramatically reconstructs what, in his mind, the gladiators of ancient Rome must have looked like. Although there were a number of historical inaccuracies in the picture, such as the nineteenth century rugs hanging over the arena walls, this painting was so widely recognized during this century that the Latin phrase Pollice Verso, which simply means thumb turned, became associated specifically to thumbs down and thereby thumbs down became associated to the crowd and Roman imperial leaders calling for the death of a fallen gladiator. 42 This has been commonly used in movies and TV series about ancient Rome ever since. The vivid imagery is both gruesome yet aesthetically beautiful, from the glinting armor to the dappling of light on the ground and the roaring crowds raked in shadow and sunlight.

Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824-1904)
Oil on canvas , 1872
96.5 x 149.2 cms | 37 3/4 x 58 1/2 ins

The Barbizon School and Naturalism

43
The Pre or Proto-Impressionists were more aligned to Eugene Boudin , Johan Barthal Jungkind, Richard P. Bonington , Joseph M. Turner and John Constable .
Unlike either classical or academic painting in which the artist indirectly arrives at the completion of a work of art through a number of layers of paint, naturalism was a more direct painting method. The naturalist Barbizon school of painters was a group of artists who gathered between 1830 and 1870 in the village of Barbizon near Fontainebleau Forest, France. This group of artists was known as a movement that trended towards a more impressionist, plein air approach. They worked to capture peasant life and the rural landscape. Although these artists are usually allocated to naturalism, it is important to note that they did study at the academy schools, a fact that is not often mentioned. 43

This group was considered a move towards realism in subject, as these artists depicted the harsher reality of difficult fieldwork and the rural environment in which the common man lived and worked. The leaders of this movement were Jean-François Millet (1814-1875), the landscape painter Théodore Rousseau (1812-1867), and Charles-François Daubigny (1817-1878), though there were many other successful members of this group as well including Jules Breton (1827-1906). There was also an important group of artists that were heavily influenced by the Barbizon painters called the French Naturalists such as Léon Augustin L’hermitte (1844-1925), Pascal Adolphe Jean Dagnan Bouveret (1852-1929) who was a pupil of Gérôme , Jules Bastien Lepage (1848-1884) who was a student of Cabanel , and Julien Dupré (1851-1910) which this chapter will not expound upon, but are deserving of considerable study. The Barbizon school is also credited for influencing what were to become the impressionist painters such as Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir who used brighter primary colors, versus the earthier blended colors of the Barbizon school.

Jules Bastien-Lepage (French, 1848-1884)
Oil on canvas , 1879
254 x 279.4 cms | 100 x 109 3/4 ins
Oil on canvas , 1886
114.6 x 84.8 cms | 45 x 33 1/4 ins
The Goose Girl of Mezy
Oil in panel, 1892
160 x 85.1 cm (63 x 33 1/2 in.)

Other Prominent French Academic Painters

Apart from the artists who were given varying degrees of administrative power, there were many artists who dedicated their time solely to painting and became famous for their work without becoming involved in leadership rolls. The painter, Jehan Georges Vibert (1840-1902), must be mentioned for his famous works that spoofed the clergy. Misinterpreted as silly anecdotal paintings for most of the 20th century, his works were truly an expression of freedom of speech as in many places such works were considered blasphemous. One must not forget that poking fun at the clergy would have been a serious criminal offence not that long before.

One very amusing example of his work is The Committee on Moral Books. This painting shows two clergymen reviewing a large stack of questionable books to deem if they are suitable for the public. The two men of the cloth sit reading and in a state of considerable merriment and laughter, undoubtedly evoked by the books’ contents, toss them into the fire. This painting is intended to point out hypocrisy in the clergy, and although humorous to the viewer, the painting is actually addressing the serious matter of censorship. Vibert was not an artist who took shortcuts and in many of his paintings he would choose what would appear to be the most difficult choices. From extravagant wallpaper to Persian carpets, to highly articulated clothing, jewelry and opulent settings, Vibert was a technical master. However, in Vibert’s clergy paintings he was not only showing off his skill with the brush, but also denoting the rich and luxurious settings the leaders of the church enjoyed while so many others endured poverty.

Gustave Doré (1832-1883) was a highly skilled and very prolific independent artist. He was not only an important illustrator, but was especially known for dark moody landscapes and dark, difficult subject matter that many other artists of his day avoided. He had an abundance of imagination, both for the beautiful and the bizarre. Some of his most well known works depicted scenes from Dante’s Inferno and Edgar Allen Poe’s Raven, though he was also an advocate for the poor and mistreated which he exposed in his paintings with the hope to bring about social reform.

44
Christie’s New York, catalogue note, October 12th 2011.
Not an artist who can be defined by any one particular school, Doré may be best described as a visionary realist. By combining Romanticism's drama with Realism's social commentary and what would be Symbolism's spiritualism, Doré produced works of startling beauty and raw emotion that are distinctly his own. 44

His painting La famille du saltimbanque: l'enfant blesse is part of a twelve piece series titled Paris tel qu'il est (Paris Such as It Is). In this painting Doré tackles the subject of the poor and physically handicapped with both compassion for the realistic circumstances and profound imagination.

45
Nancy Rose Marshall, James Tissot, 7.
Lastly James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836—1902) must be mentioned as the foremost fashionable painter of high-society. He painted “the foibles of love and defeats of passion, the shifting relationship between men and woman in a rich, materialistic society, and the self-interest of the leisured classes.” 45 He was a master for detail and beauty, but could also capture the subtlest of human emotions. Although Tissot was a French artist, he lived for many years in England with his model muse, Kathleen Newton, whom he met around 1876. Since Kathleen was a divorcée and it was socially unacceptable that they were living together, they kept to a quieter lifestyle.

Although Tissot’s paintings brought considerable attention, he was better known in England then France and his low social profile kept him out of the kind of drama that surrounded the people of power in the art world of his day, people such as Lord Leighton or Alma-Tadema . Tissot moved back to Paris in 1882 following Kathleen’s death, at which point he painted Parisian women and finally in his later career, with a burst of spirituality, painted religious scenes and traveled to the holy lands.

Jehan Georges Vibert (French, 1840-1902)
The Committee on Moral Books
Oil in canvas
45 x 64.7 cm (17.7 x 25.5 in.)
Gustave Doré (French, 1832-1883)
La famille du saltimbanque: l'enfant blesse
(The Family of Street Acrobats: the injured child)
Oil in canvas, 1853
194.9 x 130.8 cm (76 3/4 x 51 1/2 in)
Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado, USA
James Jacques Joseph Tissot (French, 1836-1902)
Oil On Canvas
54 x 86 cms | 21 1/4 x 33 3/4 ins

19th Century Academic Painting in England

The Royal Academy

46
Sidney C. Hutchison, Royal Academy, p 17.
Just as the Ecole des Beaux Arts was of the highest importance as an art school in France, the Royal Academy Schools (R.A.) were the equivalent in England. The important exception however, is that unlike the Ecole des Beaux Arts, which was in essence a government school, the Royal Academy was founded as a self-supporting, self-governing body of artists, though it did have the King’s patronage and protection. Founded in 1768, the students of the school trained free of charge and, because they had their own premises, hosted exhibitions of living artists as well as arranged for loans and exhibitions of artwork from previous periods. 46 The Royal Academy started accepting female artists as early as 1861.

47
The Royal Academy Schools still exist today and tuition is still free, though the way art is taught is entirely different from how it was taught in the 18th and 19th centuries.
48
At the R.A.’s founding there were only 40 members allowed but that number was increased to 42 members in 1853. The number was increased again to 50 in 1972 and there are now up to 80 members allowed as of 1991.
Like the Paris Salon was to France, The Royal Academy Exhibitions were the highlight of the art world in England and the proceeds from these exhibitions were the major source of funds used to run the school. 47 There were allowed up to 42 members 48 who were called Royal Academicians and constituted the ruling body of the organization under an elected president. Becoming a member of the R.A. was considered a great honor. There was also Associate Royal Academicians (A.R.A.), which provided a means of pre-selecting candidates to fill future membership vacancies.

49
Sidney C. Hutchison, Royal Academy, p 123.
50
Sidney C. Hutchison, Royal Academy, p 135.
Although the Royal Academy was housed in more than one location throughout its history, in 1850 there developed a conflict in their location at Trafalgar Square, as the King needed additional space for the National Gallery whose premises they shared. Martin Archer Shee (1769-1850) and the next president of the R.A., Charles Lock Eastlake (1793-1865), were both Trustees of the National Gallery; but Sir Francis Grant (1803-1878), who became president in 1866, was not. In this same year it became clear that the Royal Academy was going to have to vacate Trafalgar Square and on March 6, 1867 they signed the lease to take over Burlington House. 49 Although Burlington House and the surrounding gardens were already serving as space for the Royal Academy Schools, construction continued through the entire first decade to make the space suitable for all the R.A.’s needs. On November 13, 1878, there was a vote for a new president and Frederick Lord Leighton (1830-1896) received an over whelming 31 votes with only 11 going to other candidates. Her Majesty knighted him twelve days later. 50

51
Sidney C. Hutchison, Royal Academy, p 148.
Lord Leighton was one of the most influential artists of the period and is discussed later in this chapter as part of the Olympian Classical Revival. Lord Leighton remained President of the RA for the majority of the rest of the century and when he died in 1896, Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896) one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, was voted into office but was ill and died the same year. Fellow Olympian, Sir Edward John Poynter (1836-1919) was his successor. Poynter was named the Director of the National Gallery in 1894, so his appointment as President of the R.A. gave him two of the top positions in the Victorian and Edwardian art world. 51 Poynter’s work, though thoroughly classical in subject matter, may be considered part of the Aesthetic Movement as well. Although there is no secondary school in England as important to art training as the Academy Julian was in France, there were two other important English schools that should be noted. These schools were the Heatherley School of Fine Art and the South Kensington School of Art, at which many of the artists discussed in this section also trained. Students attended these in order to become proficient enough in basic academic techniques to be eligible to apply to the R.A.

Edward John Poynter (British, 1836-1919)
The Festival
Oil in canvas, 1875
137.2 x 53.4 cm (54 x 21 in)
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA
John Everett Millais (English, 1829-1896)
Oil on canvas

High Victorian Art

With an explosion of new subject matter now considered worthy of paint, the 1850’s and 1860’s produced a growing interest in depicting society en masse. Interest arose in showing domestic genre, such as marketplaces and carnivals, post offices and town meetings. Although there were many well known artists during the high Victorian period who depicted domestic genre scenes such as Leopold Egg (1816-1863), William Maw Egley (1826-1916), and Charles West Cope (1811-1890), the most well known artist for large groups of society in mass was William Powel Frith (1819-1909) who was also known for painting medieval imagery equally as popular in early and high Victorian England. For Frith, success came early. He became an ARA member in 1845 and a full Academician in 1852. In 1851 the painter visited Ramsgate where he found inspiration for his first large-scale crowd scene, Ramsgate Sands. This painting sealed for him a successful career when Queen Victoria purchased it. Frith’s work has a distinctive technique and a hand that is fully his own.

Another artist, who is less well known in general, but who is equal qualitatively, and who was also famous for these crowd scenes, was George Elgar Hicks (1824-1914). The below quote was given at an exhibition of Hick’s work in 1983, but the same applies to Frith:

52
F.M.L. Thompson, History Today Volume 33: issue 1, 1983.
What Hicks did was to begin to construct an urban myth which might tame the wild, unruly beast of the city; familiarize it, render it rational, and orderly. He took scenes of bustling confusion, full of jostling, swearing multitudes of the lower orders, and reduced them — or raised them to images of sweet reasonableness. Moreover he showed crowds not as something potentially menacing, but as necessary gatherings operating the everyday mechanisms which kept London alive and functioning. They were to be respected, not feared. The middle classes knew what they wanted better than the art critics did. They liked Hicks' pictures precisely because they departed from reality sufficiently far to be reassuring without taking the make-believe touch so far as to be transparently incredible. Here was a slice of London as they would have liked it to be, shaped in their own image. 52

In the 1870’s, with a decline of interest in bustling contemporary genre paintings illustrating scenes of Victorian life, Hicks moved on to portraiture, commissions, and a different type of genre painting, many of which are beautifully aesthetic psychological studies of individuals or smaller intimate groups. Although he has been most noted for his historic crowd scenes, it is most likely that his later scenes of beauty and childhood will be increasingly appreciated, as these are the ones that more closely resemble the works of his most sought after contemporaries. His oil, Fair Critics (1886), is an outstanding example of this approach. Frith’s style changed less then Hick’s, most likely because his career was already successful and firmly established as can be seen in his later crowd painting of 1883, A Private View at the Royal Academy, 1881. These paintings, although they may not appeal as much to modern taste, form a valuable record of Victorian Life.

William Powell Frith (English, 1819-1909)
Oil on canvas , 1883
60 x 114 cms | 23 1/2 x 44 3/4 ins
George Elgar Hicks (English, 1824-1914)
Oil on Canvas
36 x 48 cms | 14 x 18 3/4 ins
George Elgar Hicks (English, 1824-1914)
Oil on Canvas
91 x 136.5 cms | 35 3/4 x 53 1/2 ins

The Pre-Raphaelites

53
James Harding, The Pre-Raphaelites, p. 5-6.
54
This is the very same year when revolutions throughout Europe overthrew prior political conventions, including in France which as stated previously led to the liberalization of the Paris Salon.
55
James Harding, The Pre-Raphaelites, p. 5-6.
The Pre-Raphaelite Movement was one of the most influential of the period which grew in influence as the century advanced. Although there were seven members of the original group who called themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (P.R.B.) and were inspired by the coloration and style of Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893), only three were of significant importance to the foundation of the movement, those being Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), and John Everett Millais (1829-1896). 53 The Brotherhood was formed in 1848 with the intent to overthrow academic conventions. 54 They strived for complete fidelity with nature, had an intense determination to make a fresh start, believed that each picture should convey a large number of ideas, and had a wish to be didactic, moralistic, and deliberately revolutionary. 55 Noted British art historian Christopher Wood wrote:

56
Christopher Wood, The Pre-Raphaelites, p 12.
The Pre-Raphaelite movement is a blend of romantic idealism, scientific rationalism and morality. This typically mid-Victorian mixture is, like so much in the Victorian age, full of paradox. How else can one explain a group of artists and intellectuals whose idea of modernity was to paint the middle ages? The Pre-Raphaelites were modern and medieval at the same time, and to understand them is to understand the Victorians. 56

57
Christopher Wood, The Pre-Raphaelites, p 17.
They painted with intense detail and bright intense colors like Botticelli (1445-1510), Hans Memling (1430-1494) and Fillippo Lippi (1406-1469), those artists who painted before Raphael (1483- 1520). All elements were painted with equal importance every blade of grass and each cloud in the sky were labored over and rendered to the same degree as faces, hands and eyes. However, they employed modern interpretation and although they did paint religious scenes, they also depicted legends and romantic stories. The Brotherhood at first was met with harsh criticism. One of John Everett Millais’s first paintings, Christ in the House of His Parents, done in the Pre-Raphaelite style, was met with disapproval in 1850. “Mr. Millais’s principal is, to speak plainly, revolting. The attempt to associate the Holy Family with the meanest details of a carpenter’s shop, with no conceivable omission of misery, of dirt, of even disease, all finished with the same loathsome minuteness, is disgusting.” 57

58
Christopher Wood, The Pre-Raphaelites, p 18.
All of the other members of the brotherhood were met with similar criticism and they were accused of being anti-classical, abrupt, single-minded, and uncouth as a way to achieve fame. This is ironic; especially if you consider that the Pre-Raphaelites are so often criticized by the modernist movement, despite the fact that modern art itself so often employs offensive shock values to gain attention. The stress of so much criticism caused fighting to break out between P.R.B. members and Rossetti, for one, vowed never to exhibit in public again. 58

59
James Harding, The Pre-Raphaelites, p. 15.
It wasn’t until the Brotherhood gained the positive attention of John Ruskin, perhaps the foremost critic of his day, that things started to turn around for them and other artists, such as Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898), William Morris (1834-1896) (who moved to the Aesthetic Movement), Arthur Hughes (1832-1915), Frederick Sandys (1829-1904), John Roddam Spencer Stanhope (1829-1908), John Melhuish Strudwick (1849-1937), Evelyn De Morgan (1855-1919), Sidney Harold Meteyard (1868-1947), and Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale (1871-1945), inspired by their work, followed in their footsteps. The official Brotherhood fell apart in 1860, but it would have a lasting effect on the rest of the century. 59 Although Rossetti and Holman Hunt would continue in the Pre-Raphaelite style for the rest of their careers, John Everett Millais’s painting style shifted dramatically to what was at the time a more fashionable, looser technique and less color intense palette.

John Everett Millais (English, 1829-1896)
Oil on canvas , 1849
86.4 x 139.7 cms | 34 x 54 3/4 ins
Tate Gallery, London
William Holman Hunt (British, 1827-1910)
Christ and the two Marys
Oil on canvas over wood panel
117.5 x 94 cm (46 1/4 x 37 in.)
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (British, 1828-1882)
The Damsel of the Sanct Grael (Holy Grail)
Oil on canvas, 1874
92 x 57.8 cm (36 1/4 x 22 3/4 in.)
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia
Frederick Sandys (British, 1829-1904)
Valkyrie
Oil on canvas, 1873
76.2 x 38.1 cm (30 x 15 in.)
Williamson Art Gallery and Museum, Birkenhead, Wirral

Medieval Subject Matter

Victorian art can be credited with creating compelling images that have worked their way into the present day psyche, impacting today’s perceptions and understandings of romance, chivalry, and the medieval era. Inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites, the three artists that can be most credited for modern visualizations of the medieval time period were John William Waterhouse (1849-1917), Sir Frank Dicksee (1853-1928), and Edmund Blair Leighton (1852-1922). All whose most famous images can be seen in a vast number of card and poster shops across Europe and America and have been commercialized on pillows, handbags, and numerous other accessories, permeating our culture and representing the epitome of the modern concept of medieval legend and romantic sentiment.

Although when looking at their art now, they may seem like traditional interpretations of medieval subject matter, they were unique at the time and are the reason why this type of imagery comes to mind when picturing these themes. Much of the period depicted images from popular fiction and one such theme was the Arthurian legend. Many of the stories were also reinforced through the poets of the day.

60
Trippi, Peter J. W. Waterhouse, Phaidon Press Ltd., London and New York, 2002. Page 123.
The concept of the Bell Dame Sans Merci (Beautiful woman without mercy) for example, derived from a medieval poem written by Alain Chartier. However, John Keats popularized it in 1820. In Keats’ poem a knight is bewitched by a fairy in a meadow, almost costing him his life. 60 La Belle Dame Sans Mercie is a common theme depicted in many Victorian paintings, where a woman uses her beauty to entrap men, putting them at great peril. Though there were other artists who created compelling images of the medieval times as well, the works by Waterhouse, Dicksee and Blair Leighton were among the most popular.

John William Waterhouse was a second-generation Pre-Raphaelite Romantic who incorporated impressionistic techniques with masterful skill. His subjects, earlier in his career were scenes of antiquity inspired by Alma-Tadema , but as his work developed he became known mostly for depicting Arthurian Legend, something for which he was loved and greatly admired. Peter Trippi said it best in his book on Waterhouse that:

61
Trippi, Peter J. W. Waterhouse, Phaidon Press Ltd., London and New York, 2002. Inside of front cover sleeve.
[He] is among the most popular Victorian Artists, and many of his paintings have become icons of femininity recognized the world over. With their glowing color, compelling composition and Impressionist-infected technique, these paintings are admired for their beauty, yet at the same time have the power to transport viewers into a romantic world of myth and legend. Waterhouse's art reflects not only his distinctive ideal of female beauty, but also a lifelong fascination with the Romantic and Symbolistic themes of passion, magic and transformation, spiritual, erotic and physical...like other Victorian artists, Waterhouse was neglected through much of the 20th century, but today he is acknowledged as a crucial inheritor of the Pre-Raphaelite legacy. 61

In his painting of Tristan and Isolde with the Potion, Waterhouse depicts a popular Twelfth century poem that was also re-popularized in the nineteenth century. Isolde, Princess of Ireland, has been entrusted to the care of Tristram to take her safely to Cornwall to marry the king. However, Tristram and Isolde are in love. The couple decides to die together rather than be separated and they choose to drink a poison. However, unbeknownst to them, the poison was switched for a love potion that makes them fall even more in love and they run off together into the forest.

Waterhouse chose to show the two lovers on the boat at the climax of the story where they think they are about to die. The desperation in Isolde's face can be clearly seen as she clutches the goblet with both hands. In Tristram, we see a distinct look of resignation as he accepts it. In the background the castle can be seen as a reminder of his duty to bring Isolde safely to the king. There is a distinct line creating the edge of a plank that runs on the floor between them, emphasizing their separation. As Tristram accepts the goblet his foot crosses over this distinct line foreshadowing that the separation between them is about to end.

John William Waterhouse (English, 1849-1917)
Oil on canvas , 1893
112 x 81 cms | 44 x 31 3/4 ins
John William Waterhouse (English, 1849-1917)
Oil on canvas
109.2 x 81.3 cms | 43 x 32 ins

62
"Dicksee, Sir Frank" A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art by Ian Chilvers and John Glaves-Smith. Oxford University Press Inc. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.
Sir Frank Dicksee (1853—1928) was a Royal Academician and has the distinction of becoming President of the Royal Academy in 1924, though by this time the paintings of his generation were already out of fashion and this appointment was “seen as a concession to his seniority rather than as an indication of his standing in the art world.” 62 Despite this, Dicksee had a long, prominent, and successful career. His paint handling was particularly unique. He would utilize tight paint handling along with looser impressionistic stylization that might be termed academic impressionism. He would paint with thick impasto, but would also glaze when necessary. This selective impasto creates a lively and organic texture to his work that causes light to crackle across the surface, producing a transcendent quality and an almost internal glow.

In his painting titled Chivalry, Dicksee depicts a knight rescuing a maiden in distress. The hero stands over the lady’s captor, as the fallen knight tries to pry the victor’s foot off his chest. The hero is in the middle of drawing his sword from his sheath to strike the final blow. The horse peers at the viewer, communicating with knowing anticipation, while the maiden looks back at her rescuer with reverence. The sunrise allows for the dramatic lighting that Dicksee was known for, giving him an excuse to emphasize hot and cool jewel like tones with an emphasis on the warmer colors.

Frank Dicksee (English, 1853-1928)
Oil on canvas , 1885
182.7 x 136.6 cms | 71 3/4 x 53 3/4 ins

63
Interview with Robert Harding, EBL’s Grandson, February 20, 2011.
64
Langham Sketch Club records, provided by the president of the Langham sketch, Clifford Hatts.
Edmund Blair Leighton (1852-1922), was best friends with Sir Frank Dicksee , but he did not care at all for social climbing and would not socialize with people he did not care for. 63 He did however have many close artist friends and had an active social life with them. He and Dicksee were both also members of the Langham Sketch Club, Blair Leighton serving as its president in 1880. 64 Many works from Blair Leighton’s earlier career were likely inspired by the oil sketches he produced at the Langham Sketch Club meetings in which a theme was suggested to artists based on a “phrase of the day”. Although Blair Leighton’s paintings are among the most famous of the period, his name is less known then other artists who were perhaps more active in social networking. Like Waterhouse and Dicksee, Blair Leighton attended the Royal Academy schools but was never made an Academician, Associate, or otherwise. He did exhibit regularly there however from 1878 when he had finished his formal education, throughout the rest of his life.

65
Caroline Oboussier (EBL’s granddaughter), Edmund Blair Leighton: A gentlemanly painter, unpublished, 2004 p. 9.
For Edmund Blair Leighton, painting stone was as important as marble was to Alma-Tadema . Blair Leighton used a variety of paint handling techniques to recreate the feelings of different textures. The stonework, at the height of his career, was occasionally created using thick globs of paint and a pallet knife in a similar manor to a construction worker using Spackle. This is likely what gives his stonework such a realistic texture. Blair Leighton was also known for painting fabrics and elaborate costumes for which he collected original props. He also collected musical instruments and armor, which he was happy to loan to his friends upon request. 65

In his painting of God Speed he portrays a beautiful maiden with golden hair flowing down to her waist. She is tying a red sash around her lover’s arm, a knight in shining armor, as he is about to ride off to war on his white steed. Such a sash was bestowed with the understanding that the knight must return it, reassuring both parties that they would be reunited. Few paintings encapsulate with this strong a sense, the sensibilities of this genre; with the beautiful maiden, the knight in shining armor, the white steed, and the sense of immediate peril which threatens the subjects’ contentment. Few images of any date have impacted so deftly our modern-day imaginations of both chivalry and the Middle Ages.

Edmund Blair Leighton (English, 1852-1922)
Oil on canvas
Edmund Blair Leighton (English, 1852-1922)
Oil on canvas

Although these three artists may have had the greatest effect due to the fame of their images, there are a vast number of other artists who were inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites and depicted medieval subject matter. A stunning example titled St. George can be seen in the art of Solomon J. Solomon (1860-1927). In 1896 the Academy elected Solomon an Associate and a full Academician ten years later, giving him the distinction of being the second Jewish person awarded this honor.

Solomon Joseph Solomon (English, 1860-1927)
Oil on canvas

The Olympian Classical Revival

67
Information provided by classical art historian, Dr. Vern G. Swanson (15 Aug 2014).
68
Christopher Wood, Olympian Dreamers: Victorian Classical Painters 1860-1914 (London, Constable and Co, 1983).
The classical revival in Victorian painting was the last major neo-classical re-genesis in world art history. The reverberating power of classical antiquity on imperial England, indeed most of Europe, resonated with many of Britain’s major painters. Nearly four hundred exhibiting artists during the latter half of the nineteenth century attest to the ongoing allure of Greco-Roman subject matter. 67 It some ways though, it was more a view of the Victorian self-image than stylistically classical. Christopher Wood expands on this idea, “It tells us a great deal more about late Victorian and Edwardian England than it does about Greece or Rome.” 68

Frederick Lord Leighton was considered one of, if not the most important English artist in the latter half of the 19th century and the leader of the resurgent classical antique movement from the 1860s onward. He had a long and successful rein as President of the R.A. from 1878—1896 and his social connections and prestige were well recognized. Apart from politics, his work was classically powerful and adored. Using bright colors influenced by the German Nazarene School, he painted scenes of great beauty, often scenes from Greco-Roman mythology such as in his Garden of the Hesperides, but also tender romantic moments or those between a mother and child. He also was recognized for his portraiture and he was especially known for the glowing porcelain white skin that many of the women in his paintings possessed.

His work can also be categorized as being part of the Aesthetic Movement, like Poynter , Alma-Tadema , and especially Albert Joseph Moore whose work will be discussed latter in this chapter. Leighton’s most famous oil and one of the most iconic images of the period is his painting of Flaming June (c.1895). The warm tones capture the feeling of summer with the sleeping figure dressed in translucent, orange, diaphanous fabric. The light catches on the water behind her and the flowers from the garden drape over the white marble bench. The gold patterned strip at the top of the picture blends into the design of the painting’s frame so that at even a close distance it does not seem to be paint. Because of this element of trompe l’oeil, the flowers appear to be protruding out of the canvas. This painting fully embodies the idea of art as “beauty for beauty’s sake,” though with it comes a love for humanity, life, and the splendor of these precious things.

Lord Frederick Leighton (English, 1830-1896)
Oil on canvas , 1892
169 x 169 cms | 66 1/2 x 66 1/2 ins
Lord Frederick Leighton (English, 1830-1896)
Oil on canvas , 1895
120.6 x 120.6 cms | 47 1/4 x 47 1/4 ins
Museo de Arte, Ponce

69
Interview with Dr. Vern Swanson, world authority on Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and John William Godward , August 9, 2014.
Though this chapter cannot cover all of them, Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912) and George Frederic Watts (1817-1904) are of great importance Although Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema was born in the Netherlands and is Dutch, he moved to England in 1870 and spent the remainder of his life there. He became a very prominent painter in England and is often thought of as English, being given a deniazation (special form of citizenship) and being knighted by the Queen. He was very outgoing and socially he carried a lot of influence. He was best known as a painter of antiquity of Roman, Greek, and Egyptian subject matter. He was known as the greatest painter of marble and a spectacular colorist and draftsman. His work currently holds the two highest prices for non-impressionist works of this period purchased at auction, that being 35,922,500 US dollars for his painting of The Finding of Moses, and 29,202,500 US dollars for the meeting of Antony and Cleopatra: 41 BC. Other artists were highly influenced by his work including John William Waterhouse ; whose early work closely resembles Alma-Tadema’s, as well as John William Godward , who, although an agoraphobic introvert, had a tremendous talent and has become a highly sought-after artist in the 21st century auction scene. 69 )

Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Netherlands, 1836-1912)
Oil on canvas , 1883
65.4 x 92.1 cms | 25 1/2 x 36 1/4 ins
John William Godward (English, 1861-1922)
Oil on canvas
116.8 x 80 cms | 46 x 31 1/2 ins
Sir Edward John Poynter (British, 1836-1919)
Chloe, skilled in sweet measures and mistress of the lyre
Oil on canvas, 1893
71 x 91.5 cm (28 x 36 in.)

70
Mark Bills, G.F. Watts: Victorian Visionary, p 56-57.
George Frederick Watts was both a painter and sculptor who, in addition to painting neo-classical subject matter, had strong ties to the Symbolist Movement. Watts was a serious man, lacking humor, which was expressed in his art through his choice to depict darker subject matter. Even his portraits reflected a kind of dark pathos. Although he painted a large number of portraits, his most memorable works are those that incorporate our modern day conception of psychology, something that was already being explored by these artists pre-Freud, since “the human psyche is the subject of symbolism.” 70

71
Mark Bills, G.F. Watts: Victorian Visionary, p 264.
In Watts’ painting of For He Had Great Possessions, Watts successfully portrays the isolation and burden that can come with an obsession with materialism. The hunched shoulders being pulled down by the weight of his expensive robes along with the subject’s half hidden face give a feeling of encumbrance, while his enlarged hand displaying a multitude of rings emphasizes that his isolation is due to the importance these objects hold to him. “The success of this painting is due to the fact that the striking image invites the viewer to find parallels and comparable personalities in their own life, something that Watts intended.” 71

George Frederic Watts (English, 1817-1904)
Oil paint on canvas , 1894
139.7 x 58.4 cms | 54 3/4 x 22 3/4 ins
Tate Gallery, London

The Aesthetic Movement

The Pre-Raphaelites heavily influenced the artists of the Aesthetic Movement. Although the Aesthetic Movement has their own distinguishing features, there are a large number of important artists who overlap between the Pre-Raphaelites, Olympians and the Aesthetic painters, some leaning more towards one, some more towards the other, and some straddling more then one. The main differences between the Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetic painters are that Pre-Raphaelites used many intense jewel-like colors and depicted clear narrative content, whereas paintings of the Aesthetic Movement have a more limited and subtle color pallet with no specific discernable story line. Classicism specified Greco-Roman subject matter as opposed to Pre-Raphaelite Medievalism.

72
Stephen Calloway, The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900, p. 9.
73
Stephen Calloway, The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900, p. 24.
Although the artists of the Aesthetic Movement have been said to have been painting ‘art for art’s sake’ 72 , it would be more precise to say they were painting ‘beauty for beauty’s sake’ as they should not be confused with the modernist movements of the 20th century who used the term ‘art for art’s sake’ with a completely different and in some cases opposite meaning. The Aesthetic Movement was focused on “formal beauty, emphasizing nuanced yet luscious color, functional yet elegant form, and deliberate yet compelling pattern.” 73

74
Grosvenor Gallery was a prominent exhibition location.
75
Linda Merril, After Whistler, p. 14, 15.
76
The average yearly wage at the time ranged between 30 to 90 pounds.
The Aesthetic Movement cannot be understood without its founder and leading figure, James Abbot McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), his discovery of Japonisme (the influence of eastern aesthetics on western art and culture which became very influential in the later half of the 19th century), his tonalism, and his influence as a dominant figure in the 2nd half of the 19th century. Whistler was an American born artist who settled in England. Japan, having isolated themselves from the rest of the world, only first started opening to the west in the mid 1850s. This generated a lot of interest in Japanese art as more artists and individuals came in contact with it for the first time making it seem fascinating and exotic. Whistler was one of the first artists to incorporate Japanese aesthetics into his paintings as can be seen in his work La Princesse du pays de la Porcelaine. We can see some aesthetic movement principles in this work as well with the rich patters and more subtle color pallet. The ideals of the aesthetic movement were literally brought to trial when John Ruskin , the same art critic who triumphed the Pre-Raphaelite movement, harshly criticized Whistler for an exhibition of his work that took place at Grosvenor Gallery 74 which included Whistler’s stylistically impressionist to post-impressionist painting of Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, calling Whistler a “Cockney coxcomb” and alleging that he was “flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face”. This resulted in Whistler suing Ruskin for slander in 1878. The victory went to Whistler, but with a reward of only one farthing, a small cry from the 1,000 pounds Whistler was suing for. 75 76

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (American, 1834-1903)
Oil on canvas , 1863
199.9 x 116 cms | 78 1/2 x 45 1/2 ins
Freer Gallery of Art, Washington

One of the artists who were most pure in following the ideals of the Aesthetic Movement was Joseph Albert Moore (1841-1893). Because of this, examining Moore’s work is valuable to understand the paradigm of the movement. In Moore’s painting, A Summer Night (c.1887) we can see all the hallmarks of Aestheticism. The color pallet in this example is limited, for the most part, to yellows and blues. There is no story line, but the beauty of the female form is of primary focus. The figures are functional in that they are recognizable and give the viewer context by which to interpret the scene; while the floral chains above them, the two distinct gratings denoting the central window, the consistent fabric embroidery, and the deliberate draping of the sheets, all form their own distinct patters, giving the painting a mathematical, undulating, undertone. The color blocks are also very deliberate, forming a striated pattern as we scan the painting from top to bottom. Every choice, color, composition and theme is intended to enhance the aesthetic beauty of the painting, derived from objects and patterns while purposely subtracting any other forms of meaning like religion, human based story line or any morality, values or beliefs.

Joseph Albert Moore (British, 1841-1893)
A Summer Night
Oil on canvas, c.1887
132.1 x 228.5 cm (52 x 90 in.)
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, England

77
Tate, The Golden Stairs.
Other important painters were highly influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite style and combined it with principles of the Aesthetic Movement. One of the most well known is Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898), a student of Rossetti and a second-generation Pre-Raphaelite. He often used nuanced coloring and modeling but added clear narrative, allegorical content and exotic details. His work is a great example of beauty of form harmonized with beauty of content and meaning to enhance the overall power of the work. In his painting of The Golden Stairs, we can see the same sort of patterning and limited color palate that appears in the Moore painting, but rather than just being beautiful, it is a powerful, allegorical painting whose meaning has mustered much debate. 77

That being said, the women walk in an almost dreamlike trance, carrying musical instruments as they descend to a doorway through which the viewer cannot quite see. The musical instruments may represent the music of life, and the doorway the veil of death. The final girl at the lip of the door is the only one not in a trance and she peers out at the viewer. She looks out with an intense knowing and a slight smile, indicating that she can now peer beyond the veil to the afterlife. Although this painting has a deep, debatable, symbolic meaning, much of Burne-Jones’ work depicts a more stereotypical Pre-Raphaelite subject matter, those to achieve a dreamlike otherworldly impression for which the artist was known. Apart from Burne-Jones’ painting of the The Golden Stairs, his Love Among the Ruins, depicting the scene in Briar Rose where the prince wakes the princess from her sleep and the Beguiling of Merlin are especially powerful and amongst his most popular images.

Edward Burne-Jones (English, 1833-1898)
Oil on canvas , 1876
269 x 117 cms | 105 3/4 x 46 ins
Tate Gallery, London
Edward Burne-Jones (English, 1833-1898)
Oil on canvas , 1873
186 x 111 cms | 73 x 43 1/2 ins

Newlyn School of Painting and the Social Realists

78
Caroline Cox, Stanhope Forbes and The Newlyn School (England, David and Charles, ltd, 1997) throughout chapter one.
79
Tom Cross, The Shining Sands: Artists in Newlyn and St. Ives, p 12. Langley was the first significant artist to move there in 1882.
The Newlyn School of painting can be compared to the Brittany school of French Naturalism in that the focus was on the reality of everyday life for the common rural worker and was meant to be a reflection of society as it was. 78 In fact one of the great influences came from Jules Bastien-Lepage the French artist who took England by storm in the early 1880s. One major difference is that the French Naturalist school was more concerned with farm or country life, whereas the Newlyn school was based in Cornwall in the fishing village of Newlyn, near Penzance. This meant that their paintings focused more on the lives of fisherman, coastal workers and their families. Frank Bramley (1857-1915), Stanhope A. Forbes (1857-1947), George Clausen (1852-1944) and Walter Langley (1852-1922) were considered key artists of the movement, which started around 1881-82. 79

80
Penlee House Gallery & Museum, The Newlyn School.
The area, with its beautiful lighting, dramatic cliffs, unsophisticated charm, and inexpensive models, attracted many artists to this region. 80 One of the common themes depicted was the tragedy of fisherman being lost at sea, a frequent occurrence that was of primary concern to people living in fishing communities. In Walter Langley’s painting Waiting for the Boats (1885), we can see a group of woman doing exactly that. The picture gives a good sense for what it must have been like to be among the townsfolk as some woman converse, some sit in quiet contemplation, and some look nervously out to sea, fearing the boat carrying their loved ones may not return.

81
Tom Cross, The Shining Sands: Artists in Newlyn and St. Ives, p 12.
A dramatic depiction of the aftermath of this common tragedy is Frank Bramley’s A Hopeless Dawn. The tumultuous sea and a limited color pallet that emphasizes gray and brown, add to the sense of desperation and grief, while the artist lets the emotional thrust of the poetically rendered human gestures do the work of communicating the narrative to the viewer. Such scenes were very popular in the English Empire as they appealed to the chivalrous and romantic spirit of 19th century Britain. Perhaps too scenes depicting loss at sea were more poignant since the English ruled through their dominant Navy. Other popular paintings of the period depicted similar themes from antiquity such as with Alma Tadema’s Coign of Vantage and Aphrodite’s Cradle. Even many of the popular mythological paintings portray death by drowning, such as in Herbert Draper’s The Lament for Icarus, Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Water Nymphs (also and example of the belle dames sans merci), and the Victorian obsession with Shakespeare’s’ character, Ophelia, who drowned herself. Painters who were officially associated with the Newlyn School continued into the 1930s, though as time progressed the style of art changed from pre-Impressionist, to full Impressionist and even to Post-Impressionist works (mostly in St. Ives), all inspired by this coastal community and its surrounding area. 81

Walter Langley (English, 1852-1922)
Pencil and watercolor , 1885
42 x 119.5 cms | 16 1/2 x 47 ins
Frank Bramley (British, 1857-1915)
Oil on canvas
122.6 x 167.6 cms | 48 1/4 x 65 3/4 ins
Stanhope A. Forbes (British, 1857-1947)
The Quayside, Newlyn
Oil on canvas, 1907
92 x 72.5 cm (36 1/4 x 28 9/16 in.)

Social Realist Art

82
Mark Bills, Frank Holl: Emerging from the Shadows, p.30.
Although the French Naturalist Painters and the Newlyn School were location oriented, there were other social realists who focused on the human condition and a retrospective of the societal subjects of the time. Some of the most prominent artists who painted in this direction were Frank Holl (1845-1888), Sir Luke Fildes (1843-1927) and Hubert von Herkomer (1849-1914). They viewed themselves as observers of human life. 82

83
Mark Bills, Frank Holl: Emerging from the Shadows, p.80.
In Frank Holl’s painting of Did You Ever Kill Anybody Father? (1883), the artist depicts a strong psychological study of his daughter, Nina. 83 The expression on her face is both inquisitive and fearful, having reached an age at which she begins to understand the realities of life and death. There is muscular tension in her hands as she grips the hilt of the sword, appearing ready to draw it from its sheath. The artist’s decision to depict her with the sword in this fashion notates a position of strength and indicates she can withstand any answer she may receive. The hot red undertones enhance the dramatic and violent energy, while the sweetness of the child reminds us of her innocence; an innocence she may be about to lose depending on the answer she receives. This painting is as much about the child as the parent. Any adult back then, viewing this picture, just as the world was emerging from a time filled with war, would, like Frank Holl, be contemplating how to answer this question.

Francis (Frank) Montague Holl (British, 1845-1888)
Did you ever kill anybody Father?
Oil on canvas, 1883
127 x 101.6cm (50 x 40 in.)
Luke Fildes (English, 1843-1927)
Oil paint on canvas , 1891
166.4 x 241.9 cms | 65 1/2 x 95 ins
Tate Gallery, London

Conclusion

Although this chapter covers a multitude of movements and artists, they are only a small fraction of the work that emerged from the Academy Schools. In truth, the latter half of the 19th century was a second renaissance and although this chapter focuses primarily on figurative works, there were an abundance of landscape, still life, and animal painters and sculptors with their own ideals for what they wanted to communicate through their art. There are many artists worthy of note that have not been discussed, many full books on the subjects above that should be explored and many books not yet written that, without a doubt, we will see written in the 21st century. Much of the art criticism of the Victorian art, written in the twentieth century, was not objective.

Since the Academic painters of this period have only been recently re-appreciated, much re-evaluation still needs to occur as scholars gain an objective distance from the “presentism” (judging the past by today’s yardstick) of the last century’s ideals, a direct rebellion against the academic painters of the latter half of the nineteenth century by the growing and then fully established modernist movement of the 20th century. This is a serious issue when reading books on nineteenth century art written in the twentieth century, as most of them were composed to appeal to 20th century fashion sense, which rigorously rejected 19th century ideals. In fact, twentieth century fashion could be considered the complete antithesis of the academic paintings of the 19th century.

So it is important when researching this period to take this knowledge into account and reinterpret the paintings being discussed based on an objective understanding of its own ideals, versus the Modernist deconstructive interpretation of it. There is still clarification needed when it comes to what is sentiment as opposed to sentimentality and why human sentiment was condemned throughout the majority of the last century. In twentieth century doctrine, every painting from the nineteenth century of a pretty little girl was, and in many circles still is, considered overly voyeuristic, sentimental and kitsch; when in truth, many of these works can just as readily be considered a beautiful statement on childhood, which is how it would have been viewed in its historical setting. This is not to say that some works from the 19th century are not overly sentimental and kitsch, but it takes perceptive observation to tell the difference. Every painting of a pretty little girl cannot be dismissed out of hand simply because of its subject.

There is a pivotal difference between a painting of happy children created to be commercially pleasing with no real substance, and one that depicts happy children but transmits a deep psychological response, reflecting on the joys of childhood and providing a window for the viewer into the child’s perspective. If a viewer tries to objectively view what stands before them, most individuals will be able to tell the difference between a shallow painting and a meaningful one, because the meaningful painting will resonate with the soul and the other will not. One must take the time to reflect deeply on a nineteenth century painting or any figurative painting to consider what is being said. This is something that was not done throughout the majority of the twentieth century when nearly all narrative works were denigrated and dismissed out-of–hand.

Herbert James Draper (English, 1863-1920)
Oil on canvas , 1898
182.9 x 155.6 cms | 72 x 61 1/4 ins
William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825-1905)
Oil on canvas
142 x 111.5 cms | 55 3/4 x 43 3/4 ins

Although during the 20th century this painting would have been dismissed out of hand as overly sentimental, the 21st century viewer can appreciate this painting as a powerful statement about friendship and a poignant reminder of childhood.

Footnotes

1

Academic refers to art coming out of the academy and atelier schools i.e. the Royal Academy Schools in England, Academy Julian in France, etc. Back >

2

This liberalization of the Paris Salon was in reaction to the French Revolution that occurred in 1848, sometimes referred to as the February Revolution. Back >

3

Victoria and Albert Museum Website. Back >

4

Cameron, France and the Economic Development of Europe, 67. [because this is not in bibliography, give entire citing; with place of publishing, publisher, and date] Back >

5

This is referencing some of the most famous history artists of the first half of the 19th century such as Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault (1791-1824), and Paul Delaroche (1797-1856). Back >

6

Scientific color was not taught in the academies before the 1870s because the color wheel was only invented in the 1860s. Back >

7

McCabe, Lida Rose "Madame Bouguereau at Work", Il 694. Back >

8

The De Morgan Foundation, William and Evelyn de Morgan, 2010. Back >

9

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Pre-Raphaelite online resource, artist biography section, Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale. Back >

10

Interview with Dr. Vern Swanson, world authority on Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and John William Godward , August 9, 2014. Back >

11

Milner, The Studios of Paris, Yale University Press (September 10, 1990), 9 Back >

12

The other four distinct constituent academies were as follows: Académie Française, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Académie des Sciences, and Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. Back >

13

Milner, The Studios of Paris, 9. Back >

14

Mansfield, Art History and Its Institutions‬, 329.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ Back >

15

Mead and Baltard, Making Modern Paris, 64.‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬ Back >

16

Stranahan, A History of French Painting, 263. Back >

17

Milner, The Studios of Paris, 47. Back >

18

It was at this point in time that the Salon, which had at one point been hung at the Louvre, was moved to the Palais de Champs Elysées, a change that was formalized in 1884. Back >

19

Letter from Renoir to Durand-Ruel, reprint, Milner, The Studios of Paris, 48. Back >

20

Milner, The Studios of Paris, 47. Back >

21

Milner, The Studios of Paris, 47—49. Back >

22

Bartoli & Ross, William Bouguereau, Life and Works, 339—440 Back >

23

Auguste Dalligny, 'Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts — l'Exposition du Champ de Mars', Journal des Arts, 16 May 1890. See also Bartoli & Ross, William Bouguereau, Life and Works, 339—340. Back >

24

Bouguereau was vice president of the Société des Artistes Français, and had been since 1881, but on December 26th, 1890, the president was absent and Bouguereau was serving as president that day. Although he tried to reconcile and bring the group back together after the schism took place, and believed he had handled the situation appropriately, he was depressed and upset by the whole experience to the point where he resigned his position, giving up the power he had on this most important of boards. Back >

25

Bartoli & Ross, William Bouguereau, Life and Works, 341. Back >

26

Sotheby’s 19th century European Art, New York, page 18. Back >

27

Milner, The Studios of Paris, 11 -12. Back >

28

Moore, Confessions of a Young Man, 26. Back >

29

Bartoli and Ross, William Bouguereau, Life and Works, 223. Back >

30

Gabriel P. Weisberg, page 13. One of the laws that made same sex classes particularly difficult was that it was illegal to have a nude model pose in front of men and woman in the same studio at the same time. From Bartoli and Ross, William Bouguereau, 222. Back >

31

Bartoli and Ross, William Bouguereau, Life and Works, 222 and 515. Back >

32

Bartoli and Ross, William Bouguereau, Life and Works, 310. Back >

33

Tony Robert-Fleury was the son of another artist who was a member of the Institute, Joseph-Nicolas Robert Fleury. Back >

34

Art Renewal Center page on Jules Joseph Lefebvre Back >

35

Jim Cheshire, Tennyson Transformed, 49. Back >

36

The painting was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1890, but was repainted and dated 1891 by the artist. Back >

37

Christie’s New York, 19th Century European Art and Orientalist Art, 142. Back >

38

Christie’s New York, 19th Century European Art and Orientalist Art, 142. Back >

39

Akerman, The Life and Work of Jean-Léon Gérôme, 168. Back >

40

The J. Paul Getty Museum, The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme, 2010 Back >

41

Musée d’Orsay, The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme Back >

42

Akerman, Gerald, The Life and Work of Jean-Léon Gérôme, 168. Back >

43

The Pre or Proto-Impressionists were more aligned to Eugene Boudin , Johan Barthal Jungkind, Richard P. Bonington , Joseph M. Turner and John Constable . Back >

44

Christie’s New York, catalogue note, October 12th 2011. Back >

45

Nancy Rose Marshall, James Tissot, 7. Back >

46

Sidney C. Hutchison, Royal Academy, p 17. Back >

47

The Royal Academy Schools still exist today and tuition is still free, though the way art is taught is entirely different from how it was taught in the 18th and 19th centuries. Back >

48

At the R.A.’s founding there were only 40 members allowed but that number was increased to 42 members in 1853. The number was increased again to 50 in 1972 and there are now up to 80 members allowed as of 1991. Back >

49

Sidney C. Hutchison, Royal Academy, p 123. Back >

50

Sidney C. Hutchison, Royal Academy, p 135. Back >

51

Sidney C. Hutchison, Royal Academy, p 148. Back >

52

F.M.L. Thompson, History Today Volume 33: issue 1, 1983. Back >

53

James Harding, The Pre-Raphaelites, p. 5-6. Back >

54

This is the very same year when revolutions throughout Europe overthrew prior political conventions, including in France which as stated previously led to the liberalization of the Paris Salon. Back >

55

James Harding, The Pre-Raphaelites, p. 5-6. Back >

56

Christopher Wood, The Pre-Raphaelites, p 12. Back >

57

Christopher Wood, The Pre-Raphaelites, p 17. Back >

58

Christopher Wood, The Pre-Raphaelites, p 18. Back >

59

James Harding, The Pre-Raphaelites, p. 15. Back >

60

Trippi, Peter J. W. Waterhouse, Phaidon Press Ltd., London and New York, 2002. Page 123. Back >

61

Trippi, Peter J. W. Waterhouse, Phaidon Press Ltd., London and New York, 2002. Inside of front cover sleeve. Back >

62

"Dicksee, Sir Frank" A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art by Ian Chilvers and John Glaves-Smith. Oxford University Press Inc. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Back >

63

Interview with Robert Harding, EBL’s Grandson, February 20, 2011. Back >

64

Langham Sketch Club records, provided by the president of the Langham sketch, Clifford Hatts. Back >

65

Caroline Oboussier (EBL’s granddaughter), Edmund Blair Leighton: A gentlemanly painter, unpublished, 2004 p. 9. Back >

66

Solomon Hart was the first, in 1840. Back >

67

Information provided by classical art historian, Dr. Vern G. Swanson (15 Aug 2014). Back >

68

Christopher Wood, Olympian Dreamers: Victorian Classical Painters 1860-1914 (London, Constable and Co, 1983). Back >

69

Interview with Dr. Vern Swanson, world authority on Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema and John William Godward , August 9, 2014. Back >

70

Mark Bills, G.F. Watts: Victorian Visionary, p 56-57. Back >

71

Mark Bills, G.F. Watts: Victorian Visionary, p 264. Back >

72

Stephen Calloway, The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900, p. 9. Back >

73

Stephen Calloway, The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement 1860-1900, p. 24. Back >

74

Grosvenor Gallery was a prominent exhibition location. Back >

75

Linda Merril, After Whistler, p. 14, 15. Back >

76

The average yearly wage at the time ranged between 30 to 90 pounds. Back >

77

Tate, The Golden Stairs. Back >

78

Caroline Cox, Stanhope Forbes and The Newlyn School (England, David and Charles, ltd, 1997) throughout chapter one. Back >

79

Tom Cross, The Shining Sands: Artists in Newlyn and St. Ives, p 12. Langley was the first significant artist to move there in 1882. Back >

80

Penlee House Gallery & Museum, The Newlyn School. Back >

81

Tom Cross, The Shining Sands: Artists in Newlyn and St. Ives, p 12. Back >

82

Mark Bills, Frank Holl: Emerging from the Shadows, p.30. Back >

83

Mark Bills, Frank Holl: Emerging from the Shadows, p.80. Back >

Bibliography

Auguste Dalligny, 'Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts — l'Exposition du Champ de Mars', Journal des Arts, 16 May 1890

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Pre-Raphaelite online resource, artist biography section, Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale

Christopher Curtis Mead and Victor Baltard‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬, Making Modern Paris‬. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press‬, 2012‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Christopher Wood, The Pre-Raphaelites, New York, NY: The Viking Press, 1981.

C. H. Stranhan, A History of French Painting. New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1907.

Christie’s, 19th Century European Art and Orientalist Art, New York, NY: April 12, 2007.

Damien Bartoli and Fred Ross, William Bouguereau His Life and Works. Woodbridge, England: Antique Collectors Club and Art Renewal Center, 2014.

Dr. Gabriel P. Weisberg, Overcoming All Obstacles: The Woman of the Académie Julian. New York, NY: The Dahesh Museum and Rutgers University Press, 1999.

Elizabeth Mansfield, Art History and Its Institutions‬rtFoundations of a Discipline‬. Psychology Press‬, 2002‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

F.M.L. Thompson, History Today volume 33: issue 1, 1983

George Moore, Confessions of a Young Man, written in 1886, first published 1918, reprint in Harmondsworth, 1941. (publisher?)

Gerald Akerman, The Life and Work of Jean-Léon Gérôme. New York, New York: Sotheby’s Publications, 1986.

Ian Chilvers and John Glaves-Smith, "Dicksee, Sir Frank" A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art, Oxford, England: Oxford University Press Inc., N/D.

James Harding, The Pre-Raphaelites, London, England: Academy Editions, 1977.

John Milner, The Studios of Paris. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1988.

Jim Cheshire, Tennyson Transformed. Burlington, VT, USA: Lund Humphries, 2009.

Letter from Renoir to Durand-Ruel, March 1881, translated from Lionello Venturi, Les Archives de l’impressionisme, Paris-New York, 1931 vol. 1, p 115. Reprint, John Milner, The Studios of Paris. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1988.

Linda Merril, After Whistler, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003

Mark Bills, Frank Holl: Emerging from the Shadows, London, England: Philip Wilson Publishers, 2013.

Musée d’Orsay, The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme

Mark Bills and Barbra Bryant, G.F. Watts: Victorian Visionary, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2008.

Nancy Rose Marshall and Malcolm Warner, James Tissot: Victorian Life / Modern Love. New Haven & London, England: Yale University Press, 1999.

Paul Bluysen, 'Le Salon du Champ de Mars — IV, La République francaise, 23 June 1890.

Robert Jensen, Marketing Modernism in Fin-de-siècle Europe. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.

Rondo E. Cameron, France and the Economic Development of Europe, Volume IV, Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, London and New York, 1961, p. 67.

Sidney C. Hutchison, Royal Academy. New York, NY: Taplinger Publishing Company, 1968

Sotheby’s 19th Century European Art, New York, NY: October 29, 2002.

Stephen Calloway and Lynn Federle Orr, The Cult of Beauty, London: V&A Publishing, 2011.

Tom Cross, The Shining Sands: Artists in Newlyn and St. Ives, Devon, England: Westcountry Books, 1994.

The De Morgan Foundation, William and Evelyn de Morgan, 2010,

The J. Paul Getty Museum, The Spectacular Art of Jean-Léon Gérôme, 2010.

The New International Encyclopedia, Volume 10, By Daniel Coit Gilman, Harry Thurston Peck, Frank Moore Colby, Mead and company‬, 1906‬‬‬‬‬‬ ‬‬

Trippi, Peter J. W. Waterhouse, London and New York: Phaidon Press Ltd, 2002.

Wood, Christopher, Olympian Dreamers: Victorian Classical Painters 1860-1914, (London, Constable and Co., 1983)

Victoria and Albert Museum Website. Steam & Speed: Industry, Power & Social Change in 19th-Century Britain. Accessed July 24, 2014.

Kara Lysandra Ross is the Co-Chair and Chief Operating Officer for the world renowned Art Renewal Center (ARC). She holds a BA in Art History from Drew University. As an art educator she has been a contributing writer for Collections Magazine, and Fine Art Connoisseur, and has been published frequently in other magazines and newspapers. She was the co-editor of the William Bouguereau Catalogue Raisonné and author of chapter 28 in the published second edition. She served on a panel focused on the future of representational art at The Realist Art Conference (TRAC) in 2014 and in her role at the ARC spearheaded the introduction of the live exhibition associated to the ARC Salon Competition serving as chief organizer and curator. She is an ARC Salon Judge, and has served as juror in other competitions for organizations such as the International Guild of Realism, the South African Portrait Society, IX Arts, and the Ani Academy. She is also an expert on 19th century Academic French and English painting and is currently researching and writing the catalogue raisonné on Edmund Blair Leighton, for which she is accepted as the world authority, authenticating works by this artist for Sotheby's, Christie's, and Bonham's among others.