In his childhood Albert Moore showed an extraordinary love of art, and as he was encouraged in his tastes by his father and brothers, two of whom also became famous as artists: John Collingham Moore and Henry Moore.
Moore's first exhibited works were two drawings which he sent to the Royal Academy in 1857. A year later he became a student in the Royal Academy schools; but after working in them for a few months only he decided that he would be more profitably occupied in independent practice. During the period that extended from 1858 to 1870, though he produced and exhibited many pictures and drawings, he gave up much of his time to decorative work of various kinds.
His first large canvas, Elijah's Sacrifice, was completed during a stay of some five months in Rome at the beginning of 1863, and appeared at the Academy in 1865. A still larger picture, The Shunamite relating the Glories of King Solomon to her Maidens, was exhibited in 1866, and with it two smaller works, Apricots and Pomegranates. In these Albert Moore asserted plainly the particular technical conviction that for the rest of his life governed the whole of his practice, and with them he first took his place definitely among the most original of British painters.
In all his pictures, save two or three juvenile works, he avoided any approach to story-telling, and occupied himself exclusively with decorative arrangements of lines and color masses. The spirit of his art is essentially classic, and his work shows plainly that he was deeply influenced by study of antique sculpture; but unlike Alma-Tadema, he was not in any sense an archaeological painter, nor did he attempt reconstructions of the life of past centuries. Artistically he lived in a world of his own creation, a place peopled with robust types of humanity of Greek mould, and gay with bright-colored draperies and brilliant-hued flowers. As an executant he was careful and certain; he drew finely, and his color-sense was remarkable for its refinement and subtle appreciation. Few men have equalled him as a painter of draperies, and still fewer have approached his ability in the application of decorative principles to pictorial art.
Moore died in 1893, at his studio in Spenser Street, Westminster.
In 1859 Poynter returned to London, and for the next few years struggled to make a living from his paintings. He desperately needed the Royal Academy to take one of his pictures in order to establish his name. Eventually Faithful Until Death was accepted by the institution in 1865.
In 1866 Poynter married the famous beauty Agnes MacDonald, daughter of the Rev G B MacDonald of
Wolverhampton, and they had three children. Her sister Georgiana married
Edward Burne-Jones, the famous artist; her sister
Alice was the mother of the poet and author Rudyard Kipling; and her sister Louisa was the mother of
three-times Prime Minister of the United States ~ Stanley Baldwin.
It appears from the subjects of his paintings (King Solomon and King Solomons Temple) and his association with Rudyard Kipling that he was a Freemason. You will find prints of his painting "The visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon" in most Freemason Lodges around the world.
1871 to 1875, Poynter was the first Slade professor at University
College in London and 1894 to 1904, he was the director of the
National Gallery and 1896 to 1918 was president of the Royal
Although by 1894 his powers
to decline, he was still made the Director of the National Gallery
in 1896 and also received a knighthood that year.
By 1900, however, his paintings began to be repetitious and uninteresting. When the end finally came there were some deeply felt sighs of relief from a large number of people who felt that he had already long overstayed his welcome. He died 26 July 1919.
Godward was a Victorian Neo-classicist. He was a protege of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema but his style of painting fell out of favour with the arrival of painters like Picasso.
The vast majority of Godward's work feature women in Classical dress, posed against marbled landscapes. His greatest source of inspiration was Classical civilisation, particularly that of Ancient Rome and occasionaly Ancient Greece.
Meticulous research of detail was important in order to attain a standing as an artist in this Classical genre so like Lawrence Alma-Tadema (who as well as being a painter, was an archaeologist who attended historical sites and collected artefacts that were later used in his paintings), Godward, too, studied such details as architecture and dress, in order to ensure that his works bore the important stamp of authenticity.
The appearance of beautiful women in studied poses in so many of Godward's canvases caused many to categorise his work as being Pre-Raphaelite, particularly as his palette is often a vibrantly colourful one. However, the choice of subject matter, that of ancient civilisation, is more properly that of the Victorian Neoclassicist. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1887
Godward was a 'High Victorian Dreamer', producing beautiful images of a world which, it must be said, was idealised and romanticised, and which in the case of both Godward and Alma-Tadema came to be criticised as a world-view of 'Victorians in togas'.
In 1912 moved to Italy with one of his models. This fiasco led his family, who had already dissapproved of Godward becoming an artist, to cut off all contact with him. Godward returned to England in 1919.
He committed suicide on 13 December 1922 at the age of 61 and is said to have written in his suicide note that "the world was not big enough" for him and a Picasso. He is buried in Brompton Cemetery in west London. No photographs of Godward are known to survive.
Lord Frederic Leighton was born in 1830 in Scarborough, England. His family travelled extensively during his youth and he gained education and training in Rome, Florence and Frankfurt. This intensive early training and study on the Continent gave his paintings a highly professional and competent quality and Queen Victoria was a fan. His paintings represented Britain at the great 1900 Paris Exhibition.
At age 30, he moved to London and turned his work from biblical and medieval subjects to more mythological and Hellenic themes. Leighton regarded himself as a very different school to that of the Pre-Raphaelites but was friends with many of them.
In later life he tried his hand at classical sculpture and was tremendously influential in raising the profile of it in establishment circles. His 1877 sculpture, Athlete Wrestling with a Python, was considered at its time to inaugurate a renaissance in contemporary British sculpture, referred to as the New Sculpture. He even designed Elizabeth Barrett Browning's tomb for Rober t Browning in the English Cemetery in Florence.
1878 was a good year as he was made president of the royal Academy and also knighted. In 1886 he was made a baronet, and then a baron just one day before his death,the first English painter to be so honoured. After his death in 1896, the Leighton Fund was set up to purchase and commission works of art for public places. Leighton House is open to the public and contains many studies and finished pictures. Also available for viewing are some of the many objects Leighton collected from abroad.
As he was unmarried, after his death his Barony was extinguished after existing for only a day; this is a record in the Peerage. His house in Holland Park, London has been turned into a museum, the Leighton House Museum. It contains a number of his drawings and paintings, as well as some of his sculptures (including Athlete Wrestling with a Python). The house also features many of Leighton's inspirations, including his collection of Iznik tiles.
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12 Holland Park Road
London, W14 8LZ
Underground: High Street Kensington, Olympia or Holland Park
Buses: 9, 10, 27, 28, 49, 328
Opening hours (as of April 2010)
Daily 10am to 5.30pm.
Closed Tuesdays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day
Free guided tour every Wednesday at 3pm
Admission charges (as of April 2010)
£5 adult, £1 Concession (over 60, 16 and under, full-time students), ticket includes free return entry within 12 months.
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema (Dutch born: January 8th 1836) was one of the finest and most distinctive of the Victorian painters. He was a classical-subject painter and became famous for his depictions of the decadence and luxury of the Roman Empire, with langorous figures set in fabulous marbled interiors or a backdrop of dazzling blue Mediterranean sky and sea. He moved to London in 1870 where he spent the rest of his life.
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema was arguably the most successful painter of the Victorian era. For over sixty years he gave his audience exactly what they wanted: distinctive, elaborate paintings of beautiful people in classical settings.
His incredibly detailed reconstructions of
ancient Rome with languid men and women posed against white marble in dazzling sunlight provided his Victorian audience with a glimpse of a world of the kind they might one day construct for themselves, at least in attitude if not in detail.
Being an artist of his time, when the Victorian period ended so did his marketability. By the end of his career, art such as Alma-Tadema’s was no longer appreciated as it had been before. New movements in art had begun and his imagery, which was thought of as “Victorians in togas” fell out of favor. Paintings which once would have sold for £10,000 a few years earlier were now practically impossible to sell at all. Some of his paintings could have been purchased for as little as £20 at that time. His artistic legacy almost vanished. As attitudes of the public in general and the artists in particular became more skeptical of the possibilities of human achievement, his paintings were increasingly denounced. He was declared "the worst painter of the 19th century" by John Ruskin and one critic even remarked that his paintings were "about worthy enough to adorn bourbon boxes."
After this brief period of being actively derided, he was consigned to relative obscurity for many years. Only in the last thirty years has Alma-Tadema’s work been reevaluated for its importance within the nineteenth century, and more specifically, within the evolution of English art. He is now regarded as one of the principal classical-subject painters of the nineteenth century whose works demonstrate the care and exactitude of an era mesmerized by trying to visualize the past, some of which was being recovered through archaeological research.
Alma-Tadema's meticulous archaeological research, including research into Roman architecture led to his paintings being used as source material by Hollywood directors in their vision of the ancient world for films such as D.W. Griffith's Intolerence (1916), Ben Hur (1926), Cleopatra (1934) and the remake of The Ten Commandments in 1956 by Cecil B. DeMille. Indeed, Jesse Lasky Jr., the co-writer on The Ten Commandments, described how the director would customarily spread out prints of Alma-Tadema paintings to indicate to his set designers the look he wanted to achieve. The designers of the Oscar-winning Roman epic Gladiator (2000) also used the paintings of Alma-Tadema as a central source of inspiration.
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