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"LOVE & DEATH: Art in the Age of Queen Victoria"
2002-03-16 until 2002-05-12
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Sydney, , AU Australia

Love & Death brings together some of the most dramatic paintings from late 19th century Britain when Britannia ruled the waves, Queen Victoria had reigned for more than 50 years, and British industry and society were rushing headlong towards the tumultuous 20th century.

Rich in elaborate detail, sumptuous in colour and texture, and extravagantly emotional, the paintings were drawn from classical mythology and literature, ancient and modern history, contemporary life and morals.

Fledgling art museums in the British colonies of Australia and New Zealand eagerly collected paintings by the Victorian artists, but by the mid 20th century Victorian art, with its large scale and seductive realism, had sharply declined in popularity and monetary value. With the triumph of early 20th century Modernism, Victorian paintings were held up to ridicule. Some museums consigned them to basements and warehouses. Some were sold for a song. Others, less fortunate, were destroyed.

IMAGE:
Lawrence Alma-Tadema
Great Britain, 1936-1912
The vintage festival February 1871, Camden Square, London
oil on oak panel, 51 x 119cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Purchased 1888


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