The Charles R. Wood Gallery will feature works drawn from the National Museums & Galleries of Wales whose vast collection of works on paper consists of over 28,000 pieces. Victorian Visions will feature sixty-six drawings and watercolors by some of the most noted artists of nineteenth-century Britain. Sir Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Sir Edward Poynter are among the many artists featured in this exhibition.
The Victorian era (1837-1901) witnessed a wealth of creativity in Britain. Artists from this period sought inspiration from a range of subjects including literature, particularly the works of Shakespeare, the Romantic poets, British history, and legends. Other artists turned to modern life and their domestic surroundings for inspiration, while landscape painters looked to the familiar countryside rather than sublime scenes of nature that were popular a generation earlier. Many Victorian artists were designers as well as painters. William Morris and his firm Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. were the leaders in artist-designed furnishings for the home and church.
The exhibition explores the different uses of drawings and is divided into five sections accordingly. Drawings for Drawing's Sake will feature studies of heads and a selection of the artists' responses to nature, both to landscape, as with William Collingwood's view of Tintern Abby (1842), and to small naturalistic details such as Apple Blossom (1869) by Walter Crane. Artists traditionally produced studies on paper in preparation for paintings, and the second portion of the exhibition will be dedicated to this subject, featuring three figure studies by Burne-Jones for the monumental painting The Sleep of Arthur in Avalon (1883), which dominated the artist's final years. Studies for Commissions will feature Poynter's meticulously prepared studies for mosaics to decorate the central lobby of the Palace of Westminster. Designs for stained glass, ceramic tiles, and textiles, including works by Morris, will form the fourth section of the exhibition. By the end of the nineteenth century, watercolors began to reflect the developments of Impressionism, and the fifth and final grouping will feature works such as John Singer Sargent's Figure Study (1900) and Albert Goodwin's nocturnal landscape titled Lincoln (1891). These and other finished watercolors foreshadow the end of the Victorian age and point to a more spontaneous modern style for a new century.
Victorian Visions is accompanied by a fully illustrated 114-page catalogue.
This exhibition is organized by the National Museums & Galleries of Wales, Cardiff.
The American tour is organized by International Arts & Artists, Inc., Washington, D.C.