Early Victorian Art

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victorian art

Early Victorian art,  like that of Francis Bacon and Elisabeth Mary Alcott, was organized around simple forms: an ellipse, an arc, a circle, a triangle. This ideal allowed many early artists the freedom to simplify their figures into three dimensions. This innovation laid the foundation for many of the more interesting Modernist artists, who, like so many of us, are driven to combine, simplify and exaggerate in order to elevate our sense of identity.
Another example of the proliferation of multi-dimensionality can be found in chiaroscuro, which took off in the late 18 th century and has been a dominant art form ever since. Like abstract painting, chiaroscuro refers to the use of two or more colors in the same image. Contrary to the primary use of color, where color is used to indicate primary characteristics, chiaroscuro paintings allowed the artist to use the subtlest color tones to build tension and shadowed areas of the subject. Chiaroscuro was extremely popular in the mid-1800s, although it was superseded by the Impressionists in the late-1850s. Until the early-20th century, chiaroscuro looked strikingly different than that of modern art. These paintings often had outlines that were hinged on one line. Above and below each artist’s wordless names were the names of the artists that created them. The members of Sotheby’s gallery were no longer identifiable in these paintings, which added a sense of anxiety that led me to slow down and not rush by. All in all, this is a must-see for anyone who enjoys light and shadow, or those who admire Renaissance art. You will not find Renaissance paintings more at home in your home, or in any “secular” gallery.