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Level X

Looking at Victorian Art as Social History: Narrative painting and its impact


N.B. History courses may contain outdated attitudes, cultural depictions and language which cause offence today. They have to be viewed from an historic perspective. When discussing the content these views are not those of the tutor.

We study later Victorian artists who wanted to show domestic scenes and ‘real life’; and were not afraid of painting controversial subjects which might shock the public. Paintings, such as the large William Powell Frith’;s Derby Day were so popular when they were shown that a rail was needed to stop the public from getting too close to the pictures and damaging them.

Domestic scenes showed interiors of everyday life which appealed to the public. Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell chose to use fiction to expose social conditions in a way that fired the reader’;s interest and enabled them to become aware and to discuss, maybe act. Artists attempted to expose conditions by painting them realistically rather than making the subjects beautiful or fanciful. Some took a moral stance, and the fallen woman was a popular subject.

Course is illustrated with masses of Victorian paintings on powerpoint slidehows.

Tutor Sarah Tobias. This course runs on a Saturday 1100-1500


Any adult is eligible to join this course

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