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Aestheticism

Found throughout the Museum

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From 1860 to 1900, a group of artists, architects and designers in Britain found themselves united in the search for a new beauty. The Aesthetic Movement aimed to create a new kind of art, an art freed from outworn establishment ideas and Victorian notions of morality. This was to be 'Art for Art's sake' – art that didn't tell stories or make moral points, art that dared simply to offer visual delight and hint at sensuous pleasure.

Exploring Aestheticism

Photo of Screen, designed by William Eden Nesfield, 1867, England. Museum no. W.37-1972. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Screen, designed by William Eden Nesfield, 1867, England. Museum no. W.37-1972. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Vases, Edward William Godwin, about 1877, England. Museum no. C.2-2008. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Vases, Edward William Godwin, about 1877, England. Museum no. C.2-2008. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of An Open Book, watercolour, by Albert Moore, about 1884, England. Museum no. 42-1884. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
An Open Book, watercolour, by Albert Moore, about 1884, England. Museum no. 42-1884. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Brooch and hair ornaments, Carlo Giuliano, 1885, England. Museum no. M.13:1 to 4-2011. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Brooch and hair ornaments, Carlo Giuliano, 1885, England. Museum no. M.13:1 to 4-2011. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Teapot, Christopher Dresser, about 1879, Sheffield, England. Museum no. M.4-2006. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Teapot, Christopher Dresser, about 1879, Sheffield, England. Museum no. M.4-2006. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Mrs Luke Ionides (1848 – 1929), painting, by William Blake Richmond, 1882, England. Museum no. E.1062:1, 2-2003. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Mrs Luke Ionides (1848 – 1929), painting, by William Blake Richmond, 1882, England. Museum no. E.1062:1, 2-2003. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Siegfried, Act II, drawing, by Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, about 1892 – 93, England. Museum no. E.578-1932. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Siegfried, Act II, drawing, by Aubrey Vincent Beardsley, about 1892 – 93, England. Museum no. E.578-1932. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Quite too Utterly Utter, songsheet cover, Alfred Concanen, about 1881, England. Museum no. S.34-1993. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Quite too Utterly Utter, songsheet cover, Alfred Concanen, about 1881, England. Museum no. S.34-1993. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Fruit, wallpaper design, William Morris, 1862, England. Museum no. E.299-2009. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Fruit, wallpaper design, William Morris, 1862, England. Museum no. E.299-2009. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Peacock Feathers, furnishing fabric, designed by Arthur Silver for Liberty & Co., 1887, England. Museum no. T.50-1953. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Peacock Feathers, furnishing fabric, designed by Arthur Silver for Liberty & Co., 1887, England. Museum no. T.50-1953. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Plate, Brown-Westhead, Moore & Co., about 1875 – 85, Cauldron, England. Museum no. C.216-1984. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Plate, Brown-Westhead, Moore & Co., about 1875 – 85, Cauldron, England. Museum no. C.216-1984. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Design for a book cover for Oscar Wilde's The Sphinx, by Charles Ricketts, 1884, England. Museum no. E.1025-1933. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Design for a book cover for Oscar Wilde's The Sphinx, by Charles Ricketts, 1884, England. Museum no. E.1025-1933. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of The Day Dream, oil painting, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1880. Museum no. CAI.3. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The Day Dream, oil painting, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1880. Museum no. CAI.3. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Photo of Vase, Elkington & Co., 1876, Birmingham, England. Museum no. 62-1877. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Vase, Elkington & Co., 1876, Birmingham, England. Museum no. 62-1877. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Learn more about Aestheticism

Background image: Swan, Rush and Iris, design for wallpaper, Walter Crane, 1875, England. Museum no. E.17-1945. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London