This module introduces students to exciting developments in British art during the nineteenth century. Many of the themes associated with French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism during the same period – representations of the city and the countryside; the prostitute; work and labour; and images of modern life – are mirrored in the art of the Pre-Raphaelites; William Powell Frith; James Whistler; and John Singer Sargent. Victorian art offers points of contact with a range of colourful nineteenth-century phenomena – urban growth; popular entertainments of many kinds; oriental empires; the philanthropic ambitions of museums and collectors; flame-haired Pre-Raphaelite beauties; exotic femmes fatales; Near and Far Eastern landscapes; exploration of Africa and Australia; Romantic ruralism; imagined pasts and rustic idylls; city life and dandies. The Victorian age was also one of great poverty, poor housing, ill health and crime and we will see clear evidence of Victorian politics in the art and social history of the era.
By the end of the module, you will have a good knowledge of British art from 1800 to 1920. Beginning with the Romantics (Blake, Constable and Turner) and going up to the First World War and its immediate aftermath (the Bloomsbury Group, William Orpen and Paul Nash), we will think creatively about the term ‘Victorian’ and reactions to it in the past and present.
Assessment: 100% coursework