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Walker Art Gallery to Host Major Victorian Art Exhibition
Helen of Troy, circa 1867, by Frederick Sandys (© National Museums Liverpool)
The new exhibition will explore four key themes that cover the full breadth of Victorian art: Victorian romantics; painters of the Ancient World; the outside world; and late C19th symbolists.
Featured are works by leading C19th artists such as Frederic Leighton, Lawrence Alma-Tadema and Edward John Poynter, as well as pioneering Pre-Raphaelite artists such as John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt. Visitors will also enjoy rarely-seen watercolours by artists including Simeon Solomon, Helen Allingham, Ford Madox Brown, Kate Greenaway and Edward Burne-Jones.
Echo and Narcissus, 1903, by John William Waterhouse (© National Museums Liverpool)
The Victorian period marked an important change in the way people used and viewed art. Painters focused on the imagination of the spectator, exploring the fundamentals of human existence, painting emotional scenes inspired by legend and mythology, and creating representations of the physical world. Painters also adapted to accommodate the commercial expectations of the rising middle class (who could now afford to become art collectors), tailoring their work to tempt and interest potential buyers.
From the C18th until the Second World War, Liverpool enjoyed huge prosperity from the merchant trade, ship-building and the maritime industry, allowing the successful merchants to fill their large new houses with collections of art and furniture - items that helped form the collections of National Museums Liverpool.
Developed in partnership with the art historian Christopher Newall, the exhibition has already toured four major cities in Japan where it attracted more than 150,000 visitors.
Confidences, 1869 by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (© National Museums Liverpool)
Alex Patterson, assistant curator at the Walker Art Gallery, said: “National Museums Liverpool houses one of the finest collections of Victorian art in Europe. This exhibition provides a rare opportunity to see these incredible works together in one gallery, while revealing the captivating context in which they were created and collected. We hope that fans of our Pre-Raphaelite paintings will enjoy discovering more about the ideologies that inspired these works. Interestingly, the ideas that motivated the Pre-Raphaelite painters at the Royal Academy are quite different to those that influenced their 19th-century contemporaries who trained in Europe. Victorian Treasures examines these fascinating variations.”