The exhibition invites you to discover the artists famous in England during the reign of Queen Victoria in the 19th century, including Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912), Sir Frederic Leighton (1830-1896), Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) and Albert Moore (1841-1893). The fifty or so paintings exhibited reflect the common desire of the artists of this period to pay homage to the “cult of beauty” .
As the leading world power in the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), Great Britain paved the way for extensive economic and social upheaval. Against a backdrop marked by puritanism, the artists expressed a sensual aesthetic with paintings offering a sharp contrast to the severity and moralising attitudes of the day: a return to Antiquity, nude women, sumptuous decorative paintings and poetic and literary expression with medieval compositions, a legacy from the Pre-Raphaelites.
The very essence of the work of these artists, who made beauty an absolute and an art of living, was to seek the aesthetic. Women were the main subject of this artistic style known as the “Aesthetic Movement”. Their bodies were no longer hampered as they were in everyday life but nude, symbolising a form of sensuous pleasure and feminine desire. Portrayed in a reinvented living environment, women are transformed into heroines from Antiquity or medieval times. Nature in all its abundance and sumptuous palaces serve as decors for these sublime, lascivious, sensual, amorous, kindly or evil women. Painting becomes a waking dream, with an abundance of symbols.
The paintings on show at the Jacquemart-André Museum, some of which are veritable icons of British art (The Roses of Heliogabalus by Alma-Tadema, Greek Girls Picking up Pebbles on the beach by Leighton, The Quartet by Albert Moore, Andromeda by Poynter, etc.), are part of one of the most extensive private collections of Victorian paintings: the Pérez Simón collection.
Painters Lawrence Alma Tadema, Edward Burne Jones, John William Godward, Frederick Goodall, Arthur Hughes, Talbot Hughes, Frederic Leighton, Edwin Long, John Everett Millais, Albert Moore, Henry Payne, Charles Edward Perugini, Edward John Poynter, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Emma Sandys, Simeon Solomon, John Strudwick, John William Waterhouse and William Clarke Wontner, emblematic of this Victorian period are represented through this exhibition.
An international exhibition: Paris, Rome, Madrid and London
The exhibition to be held at the Jacquemart-André Museum from 13 September 2013 to 20 January 2014 will then move on to the Chiostro del Bramante in Rome, from 15 February to 5 June and afterwards to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, from 23 June to 5 October 2014, with the tour culminating at the Leighton House Museum in London.