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Victorian Classicism

Britain, Mid to Late 19th Century

Victorian Classicism was a British form of historical painting inspired by the art and architecture of Classical Greece and Rome.

In the 19th century, an increasing number of Western Europeans made the "Grand Tour" to Mediterranean lands. There was a great popular interest in the region's lost civilizations and exotic cultures, and this interest fuelled the rise of Classicism in Britain, and Orientalism, which was mostly centered in continental Europe.

The Classicists were closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelites, many artists being influenced by both styles to some degree. Both movements were highly romantic and were inspired by similar historical and mythological themes -- the key distinction being that the Classicists epitomized the rigid Academic standards of painting, while the Pre-Raphaelites were initially formed as a rebellion against those same standards.

Frederick Leighton and Lawrence Alma-Tadema were the leading Classicists, and in their lifetimes were considered by many to be the finest painters of their generation.

Chronological Listing of Victorian Classicists
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Lord Frederic Leighton 1830-1896 English Painter/Sculptor
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema 1836-1912 Dutch/English Painter
Sir Edward Poynter 1836-1919 English Painter
Albert Joseph Moore 1841-1893 English Painter
John Collier 1850-1934 English Painter
Thomas Ralph Spence 1855-1918 British Painter
Solomon Joseph Solomon 1860-1927 British Painter
John William Godward 1861-1922 English Painter
Sir William Reynolds-Stephens 1862-1943 British Sculptor
Herbert Draper 1863-1920 English Painter
Aby Altson 1864-1949 Australian Painter
Arthur Wardle 1864-1949 British Painter
Ralph Peacock 1868-1946 Painter
Arthur Drummond 1871-1951 British Painter



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