The New Painting of the 1860s Between the Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetic Movement Allen Staley

Publication date:
14 Oct 2011
Paul Mellon Centre
400 pages: 286 x 241mm
200 color + 150 b-w illus.
Sales territories:


This handsome volume is the first authoritative survey of one of the most intriguing periods of British art—the radically innovative decade of the 1860s. The book explores new developments in English painting of this period, focusing on the early work of Edward Burne-Jones, Frederic Leighton, Albert Moore, Edward Poynter, Simeon Solomon, and James McNeill Whistler, as well as on paintings by Frederick Sandys and the older G. F. Watts, and by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his Pre-Raphaelite colleagues Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. 

Allen Staley argues that engagement in the decorative arts, particularly by Burne-Jones, Moore, and Poynter at the outset of their careers, led to a transcending of traditional expectations of painting, making abstract formal qualities, or beauty for beauty's sake, the main goal. Rather than being about what it depicts, the painting itself becomes its own subject. The New Painting of the 1860s examines the interplay among the artists and the shared ambitions underlying their works, giving impetus to what would soon come to be known as the Aesthetic Movement.

Allen Staley is professor emeritus of art history, Columbia University.

"Ambitious and beautifully illustrated."—Christine Riding, Art Quarterly

"An engrossing book... a compilation of brilliant perceptions and ideas perhaps best read as a series of long essays beautifully illustrated."—Brian Sewell, Evening Standard

"A magnificent book... ravishingly illustrated."—Michael Hall, Country Life

"This is a deeply pondered academic study, but free of jargon and full of wit. It is a route map into the enigma of fine art in the aesthetic movement."—Charlotte Gere, The Art Newspaper

"Sumptuously illustrated with a telling mix of both well-known and less familiar images, the book is planned on an appropriately lavish scale, which allows the author to devote substantial chapters to each of the principal protagonists, but also gives him sufficient space to unfold a more general narrative, to weaves together themes and to introduce specific details that will be new even to the specialist."—Stephen Calloway, V & A Magazine

"This book is a monumental piece of scholarship that certainly achieves its purpose of refocusing attention on the paintings of the avant-garde in London in the 1860s. Its exhaustive text and exemplary illustrations make it an essential addition to the literature on Victorian art." Alastair Grieve, Burlington

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