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Library

Victorian

The Victorian era of the United Kingdom was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from June 1837 until her death on the 22nd of January 1901. The reign was a long period of prosperity for the British people, as profits gained from the overseas British Empire, as well as from industrial improvements at home, allowed an educated middle class to develop. Some scholars extend the beginning of the period - as defined by a variety of sensibilities and political games that have come to be associated with the Victorians - back five years to the passage of the Reform Act 1832.

The era was preceded by the Georgian period and succeeded by the Edwardian period. The latter half of the Victorian era roughly coincided with the first portion of the Belle Époque era of continental Europe and the Gilded Age of the United States

Victorian decorative arts refers to the style of decorative arts during the Victorian era. The Victorian era is known for its eclectic revival and interpretation of historic styles and the introduction of cross-cultural influences from the middle east and Asia in furniture, fittings, and Interior decoration. The Arts and Crafts movement, the aesthetic movement, Anglo-Japanese style, and Art Nouveau style have their beginnings in the late Victorian era.

Gothic Revival architecture became increasingly significant in the period, leading to the Battle of the Styles between Gothic and Classical ideals. Charles Barry's architecture for the new Palace of Westminster, which had been badly damaged in an 1834 fire,was built in the medieval style of Westminster Hall, the surviving part of the building. Gothic was also supported by the critic John Ruskin, who argued that it epitomised communal and inclusive social values, as opposed to Classicism, which he considered to epitomise mechanical standardisation.


The middle of the 19th century saw The Great Exhibition of 1851, the first World's Fair, and showcased the greatest innovations of the century. At its centre was the Crystal Palace, a modular glass and iron structure - the first of its kind. It was condemned by Ruskin as the very model of mechanical dehumanisation in design, but later came to be presented as the prototype of Modern architecture. The emergence of photography, which was showcased at the Great Exhibition, resulted in significant changes in Victorian art with Queen Victoria being the first British Monarch to be photographed. John Everett Millais was influenced by photography (notably in his portrait of Ruskin) as were other Pre-Raphaelite artists. It later became associated with the Impressionistic and Social Realist techniques that would dominate the later years of the period in the work of artists such as Walter Sickert and Frank Holl.

The reign of Victoria is the longest in British history; it would be exceeded if the present monarch (Queen Elizabeth II) remains on the throne to 2017.

 

   
 
 
 
 
 

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