Beauty, Morals and Voluptuousness in the England of Oscar Wilde

John William Waterhouse, Saint Cecilia, 1895, Orsay Museum Exhibition, Paris
John William Waterhouse, Saint Cecilia, 1895, Orsay Museum Exhibition, Paris

This exhibition explores the British "aesthetic movement" that, in the second half of the 19th century, set out to move away from the ugliness and materialism of the time, by proposing a new idealisation of art and beauty. Painters, poets, decorators and designers defined an artistic style freed from the principles of order and Victorian morality, and allowing the expression of sensuality.

From the 1860s to the last, decadent decade of Queen Victoria's reign – she died in 1901 – this movement is seen through the emblematic works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, James McNeill Whistler, Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley. They all united in a quest to combine artistic creation and lifestyle, a quest that found fertile areas of expression in photography, the decorative arts, literature and modes of dress.

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