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Victorian Painting

Lambourne, Lionel

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ISBN 10: 0714843598 / ISBN 13: 9780714843599
Published by Phaidon Press 2003-09-23, US, 2003
Condition: Good Soft cover
From Monroe Street Books (Middlebury, VT, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

512 pages. Extensive color illustrations throughout. Illustrated frontispiece. Includes extensive bibliography. Rubbing and shelf wear to dust jacket. Pages 17 to 22 slightly creased. Otherwise clean, tight copy. Record # 466654. Bookseller Inventory # 466654

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Victorian Painting

Publisher: Phaidon Press 2003-09-23, US

Publication Date: 2003

Binding: Soft cover

Book Condition:Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Good

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title


Victorian Painting is a comprehensive survey of one of the most fertile and varied eras in the history of painting. It embraces not just the United Kingdom, but also English-speaking countries linked to Britain by cultural ties of empire and emigration, such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Africa. Long regarded as a backwater of sentiment and outmoded academic convention that was bypassed by the mainstream of development in Western art, Victorian painting is now wholeheartedly enjoyed in its own right. Unfettered by old prejudices, Lionel Lambourne presents a vivid panorama of an age of unparalleled energy and creativity. Wealth, optimism, education and self-confidence created a huge demand for art, and a remarkable array of talent emerged to meet it. Producing works in a wide variety of styles, subjects and media, many artists became rich celebrities, while the profession as a whole enjoyed unprecedented public esteem. The author tackles this protean subject by dividing it into themes that reflect its richness and variety. Chapters are devoted to such topics as Mural/ History Painting, the Nude, the Portrait, Sporting Painting, Genre Scenes and Women Painters; and social themes such as the Fallen Woman, Social Realism, Travel and Emigration; as well as movements such as the Pre-Raphaelites. Written with a light touch, full of illuminating anecdotes, and with 600 color illustrations, Victorian Painting is beautiful, highly entertaining and informative. It is also an invaluable reference work since, in addition to many famous and well-loved images, it presents a wealth of fine work by lesser-known artists, and explores the byways as well as highways of Victorian art, demonstrating the astounding range and depth of talent of the age.


After 500 pages of sparkling, appreciative text and gorgeously reproduced paintings of fairies, angels, knights in shining armor, Queen Victoria, rustic bumpkins, mermaids, society ladies, gamboling colts, roses, storm-tossed seas, and small children accompanied by mutts, not to mention Ophelia floating beautifully in her watery, flower-strewn grave, readers may feel as if they inhabit the 19th century. It's a shock to wake up to the end of the 20th instead, and to the end of a deeply satisfying book. Lionel Lambourne, who was head of paintings at London's Victoria and Albert Museum for nearly a decade, writes with knowledge, wit, and grace. "Scratch a cynic and you will always find a sentimentalist," he says with regard to Victorian genre painting. In discussing the nude and a return to classicism, he writes, "Such works ... provided an additional thrill for their nouveau riche owners, for by displaying them they could show evidence of classical leanings, if not a classical education."

After an excellent introductory overview, Lambourne divides his course into 21 chapters, including: "The Victorian Art Establishment," "The Fresco Revival," "The Panorama," "Childhood and Sentiment," "Fairy Painting," "Sporting and Animal Painting," "The Pre-Raphaelites," "The Frailer Sex and Fallen Woman," "Aesthetes and Symbolists," and "Impressionism in Britain." The editing and design of the book are superb, with reproductions exactly matching the text and captions containing all relevant information. Lambourne offers new dimensions even to history we think we know well, such as Whistler's lawsuit against the critic John Ruskin, who famously accused the artist of "flinging a pot of paint in the public's face." In Lambourne's view, the controversy "marked the beginning of aspects of art as various as conceptualism and abstraction," and he goes on to explain why. A tour de force of scholarship served up with style, Victorian Painting does ample justice to a complex, frequently misunderstood era. --Peggy Moorman

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