Victorian Era

Extravagance and Luxury: Victorian San Francisco

This is the last week to see The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900which closes on Sunday, June 17, at the Legion of Honor. San Francisco has been the perfect host city in which to display this groundbreaking exhibition due in no small part to the city’s rich Victorian past. At a recent panel discussion,  "Extravagance and Industry,"  hosted by

Happy birthday, Julia Margaret Cameron!

Since its invention in the mid 19th century, photography has been at the forefront of progressive art making traditions—so its presence in The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 is no surprise. By the 1890s, photography was a half-century old and its supporters vociferously claimed it to be an independent art form, advocating for the idea of "art photography." Today we celebrate the birthday of Julia Margaret Cameron, one of the greatest photographers from this period and whose work is currently on display in The Cult of Beauty at the Legion of Honor (closing this Sunday, June 17).

Portrait of a Woman

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815–1879). Portrait of a Woman (Louise Beatrice de Fonblanque), 1868. Albumen silver print from wet-collodion-on-glass negative mounted to a heavier sheet. Museum purchase, Mrs. Milton S. Latham Fund. 1992.138

Corsets in Context: A History

The corset looms large in special exhibitions at both the de Young and the Legion of Honor. Jean Paul Gaultier, the subject of the de Young's  The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk , integrated this iconic garment into his prêt-à-porter collections as early as 1983. Meanwhile, over at the Legion of Honor in The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860 –1900 (on view through June 17) the artists of the Aesthetic Movement rejected the corset in defiance of Victorian era fashions and social mores. Tonight, Friday Nights at the de Young explores the surprisingly dynamic world of Haute Corsets , with local corset makers Dark Garden and a screening of Truth or Dare , in which Madonna gets into the groove wearing Gaultier's unforgettable cone bra corset. Before you lace up, bone up on the fascinating history of this beguiling bodice!

Mashup

Left: Emil Larsson, Body corset worn by Madonna, Blond Ambition World Tour, 1990. Dazed & Confused, April 2008 © Emil Larsson; Right: Edward Burne-Jones (English, 1833–1898). Pomona, 1886–1920. Wool, silk, cotton; tapestry weave. Museum purchase, Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund. 2001.120.2

The Wonderful World of Victorian Children's Books

In the special exhibition Making the Modern Picture Book: Children’s Books from the Victorian Era (on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17), the intimate art of 19th-century story telling is revealed. England at this time was undergoing a formative period in the design, production, and marketing of children’s books, which were often gifted as rewards or prizes, and reinforced socially acceptable behavior in the guise of entertainment. Maintaining the principles of the Aesthetic Movement, publishers and renowned illustrators achieved a compelling fusion of art and literature.

L is for Lady

William Nicholson (British, 1872–1949). An Alphabet: L is for Lady, 1898. Color lithograph. Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts. 1963.30.1351.13

FRAME|WORK: The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor) by James McNeill Whistler

Although the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900 (on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17) primarily features art by English artists, the impact of American expatriate James McNeill Whistler cannot be ignored. Whistler is best known for his subdued but complicated portraits—such as the world-famous Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1 or “Whistler’s Mother”—but today’s FRAME|WORK highlights a rather unusual painting by this American in England. The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor) is in the permanent collection of the de Young but is currently on view as a part of The Cult of Beauty

Frilthy Lucre

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (American, 1834–1903). The Gold Scab: Eruption in Frilthy Lucre (The Creditor), 1879. Oil on canvas. Gift of Mrs. Alma de Bretteville Spreckels through the Patrons of Art and Music. 1977.11

Music, Muses and Divas in the Art of the Victorian Avant-Garde

Tomorrow, May 12, 2012, the Legion of Honor presents Music, Muses and Divas , public programs associated with The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 (on view through June 17). Premier scholars of Victorian art Tim Barringer and Peter Trippi lecture on the complmentary topics of music and theater in the context of the Aesthetic Movement. We asked our lecturers a few questions about their respective talks to provide insight into the day’s presentations.

Saint Cecilia

John William Waterhouse, Saint Cecilia, 1895, oil on canvas. Private Collection

Inside the Pavonia Room

Two weeks ago we introduced you to Geoffrey De Sousa’s concept for the Pavonia Room. Inspired by the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860–1900 (on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17), De Sousa’s gentleman’s study will be installed at the San Francisco Decorator Showcase opening this Saturday, April 28. Today, De Sousa serves as a guest-blogger to unveil the completed space.

De Sousa in the Pavonia Room

Geoffrey De Sousa, the gentleman in his study

Love and the Maiden: A Harmony of Hues

In this installment of our continuing blog series examining key elements of the Aesthetic Movement through the lens of John Stanhope’s masterwork Love and the Maiden (typically on view in gallery 18 at the Legion of Honor and currently on view in The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900), curatorial assistant of European art Melissa Buron takes a closer look at color.

Love and the Maiden

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope (English, 1829–1908). Love and the Maiden, 1877. Tempera, gold paint and gold leaf on canvas. Museum purchase, European Art Trust Fund, Grover A. Magnin Bequest Fund and Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund. 2002.176

FRAME|WORK: The Garden Bench by James Tissot

During the second half of the 19th century, the face of European art history was altered by artists on both sides of the English Channel. This week’s FRAME|WORK features Le Banc de Jardin (The Garden Bench ), a print by French artist James Tissot, who was as at home with the Victorian avant-garde in London as he was with the Impressionists in Paris. This print is currently on display in Gallery 18 at the Legion of Honor and Tissot’s painting also appears in the special exhibition The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900.

The Garden Bench

James Tissot (French, 1836–1902) Le Banc de Jardin (The Garden Bench), 1883. Mezzotint. Gift of Edward Tyler Nahem. 2003.151.68

Love and the Maiden: A Tale in Tempera

Last month we featured John Roddam Stanhope’s Love and the Maiden in FRAME|WORK, which served as the first in a series of blog posts that will demonstrate key elements of the Aesthetic Movement through this singular painting. In this installment, curatorial assistant of European art Melissa Buron examines how Stanhope's use of tempera paint contributed to the aesthetic of the Victorian avant-garde.

2002.176

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope (English, 1829–1908). Love and the Maiden, 1877. Tempera, gold paint and gold leaf on canvas. Museum purchase, European Art Trust Fund, Grover A. Magnin Bequest Fund and Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund. 2002.176

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