Beauty and Beyond

It is hard to believe that The Cult of Beauty has now been open to the public for two months. I still enjoy going down to the galleries and hearing the reactions as visitors see the exhibition for the first time, as they take their first glimpse into Rossetti’s bedroom, step into the projected Peacock Room or come almost face to face with Eros. I thought I would use this, my final blog post, to suggest some other Aesthetic buildings and events you might like to add to your itinerary. To echo the words of many online retailers, ‘If you enjoyed The Cult of Beauty you might also like to try…’

When you emerge from the dramatically lit spaces of the exhibition, blinking into the daylight with visions of peacocks, sunflowers and lilies before you eyes you might want to rush home to paint your walls a distinctive shade of olive green (see a visitor’s comment on a previous blog post) or search out further Aesthetic works of art. After a pause for breath and perhaps a refreshing cup of tea in the V&A’s William Morris room you could make the short journey to Leighton House in Holland Park. The studio-house built for the artist Frederic Leighton is a rare and remarkable example of an Aesthetic ‘Palace of Art’. From the opulent ‘Arab Hall’ lined with Islamic tiles to the studio where Leighton painted such masterpieces as The Bath of Psyche, it is well worth a visit. It was designed by the architect George Aitchison and his watercolour designs feature in both The Cult of Beauty and a temporary exhibition at Leighton House (on until the 31st July). For more information:

You could also take a walk around the streets of Chelsea, the once bohemian home of artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti and James McNeill Whistler. The walking tour on The Cult of Beauty App provides you with a guide. To find out more about the App see the V&A Shop online:

If you want to travel slightly further why not visit London’s Aesthetic suburb, Bedford Park in Chiswick. If you have seen Adolf Manfred Trautschold’s lithograph, which is used as a backdrop in the exhibition, then you will not be disappointed. The streets are still lined with red brick houses with white timberwork although it does lack the children dressed in Kate Greenaway style costumes.

Adolf Manfred Trautschold, The Tower House, BedfordPark. Colour lithograph on paper, 1882. V&A: E.4039-1906

For a history and guide to the suburb follow this link:

If you would like to own a piece of Aesthetic art then a couple of events may be of interest. Remember it doesn’t cost anything to have a look.

Until 19th June Liberty department store will be holding their Annual Arts and Crafts Exhibition which has furniture and other objects from 1850-1950 on display. More information:

The auction house Christie’s is holding a Victorian Pictures sale on 15th June with works of art which relate to the Aesthetic Movement, including works by Albert Joseph Moore, Frederic Leighton, Frank Cadogan Cowper, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones. For more about the artworks in the sale see the ecatalogue

The free viewings are from 12-14 June. To find out more about the sale and the viewing times visit:

As you travel around London you might even find yourself on one of the ‘Pavonia’ buses!

Although this is my final blog post there is still plenty of time to visit The Cult of Beauty exhibition which is open until 17th July. For those who are unable to make it to London, the exhibition will be going on tour to the following venues:

  • Musée D’Orsay, Paris: 13 September 2011- 15 January 2012
  • The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: 18 February – 17 June 2012

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