Wilde’s Salome

January 29, 2011 at 10:20 pm (Aestheticism)

We’re marking your Term 1 essays at the moment, and hope to get them back to you sooner rather than later (the standard has been good too, by and large; which is encouraging). But it’s clear that several of you really liked Wilde’s Salome, at least enough to want to write on it. With that in mind, I thought I’d put up a link to another blog I run, on which I’ve posted a rather lovely set of illustrations to Wilde’s play by Frank Martin I came across. You might want to have a look; follow this link to see the whole run of them. [AR]

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Welcome 2009-10 students!

September 23, 2009 at 12:13 pm (Aestheticism, Core Course, General Victoriana, Nineteenth-century novel, Uncategorized)

Welcome to the RHUL Victorian MA blog.

We use this site to post materials and weblinks related to seminar texts and to post notices of interest to RHUL Victorianists, including notices of relevant exhibitions and talks in and around London.

There’s also a facility to post your comments so it’s a great place to follow up on seminar discussions and continue your conversations outside of class.

We look forward to meeting you at the MA Induction, Thurs 24th.

The RHUL Victorian MA team.

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National Gallery study day: the city (London and Paris) in 19thC art

February 24, 2009 at 1:40 pm (Aestheticism, Core Course, General Victoriana, Nineteenth-century novel)

Dear All,

Please see below for notice of an interesting study day at the National Gallery on depictions of the city in 19thC art.


Student Study Day

Thursday 30 April 2009
Sainsbury Wing Theatre, 10.30am–4.15pm
Tickets £6


Concepts of modernity and Modernism inform this study day as we explore the seamy underbelly of these two cities. We will focus on Ideas of town and country, leisure and pleasure, and the inventions and innovations which impacted so dramatically on life and art throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. National Gallery works by Hogarth, Courbet, Monet and Manet will be placed in their social and artistic context drawing on notions of gendered spaces, radical techniques and ‘the gaze’.


10.30–11am Registration and coffee

11–11.15am Introduction to the Day
Colin Wiggins – Head of Education, National Gallery

11.15–11.45am Whores, Colourmen and Coffee Houses: Hogarth’s London and London in Hogarth
James Heard – National Gallery

11.45am–12.15pm Many Little Harmless and Interesting Adventures…’ Men, Women and Streets in Victorian London
Lynda Nead – Birkbeck

12.15–1.15pm Talks in the Gallery

1.15-2.15pm Lunch (not provided)

2.15pm–2.45pm Two Women on the Banks of the Seine: Courbet and ‘The Gaze’
Jo Rhymer – National Gallery

2.45–3.15pm Manet and Morisot: Modern Life and Modernism in Late C19th Paris
Kathleen Adler – Independent Scholar

3.15-3.45pm Degas’ Little Ballet Dancer Aged 1 Desire, Contempt and the Fate of the Rat Girl
Colin Wiggins

3.45-4.15pm Questions/Plenary discussion

To book

For further information Tel 020 7747 2891 Email lee.riley@ng-london.org.uk
Lee Riley, Education Department, The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN.
For institution group bookings, contact Lee Riley to arrange invoicing.

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Aestheticism & Decadence: D. G. Rossetti

December 4, 2008 at 10:19 am (Aestheticism) (, )

The Blessed Damozel (1871-81); Fogg painting 1871-77

The Blessed Damozel (1871-81); Fogg painting 1871-77

Lady Lilith (1868)

Lady Lilith (1868)

The Wine of Circe by Edward Burne-Jones

The Wine of Circe by Edward Burne-Jones

Hello All,

Here are the images we will be discussing around the poems for today’s class. I’ll bring copies with me.

All best,

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Browning’s Painter Poems

November 27, 2008 at 10:15 am (Aestheticism) ()

Thought I’d follow Vicky’s example (below) and post a few images as visual context for the three Browning dramatic monologues we’ll be reading in this afternoon’s session.  ‘My Last Duchess’ is, of course, fictional; but  Andrea del Sarto and Fra Lippo Lippi were both real people (I like to think of them as ‘Andrew Taylor’ and ‘Brother Mick Jagger’ respectively).  You’ll find 87 images of del Sarto’s work here; and here’s the image that Browning saw (a portrait of del Sarto’s wife, Lucrezia) that inspired him to write the poem:

'But do not let us quarrel any more...'

Nice enough, you might think: is it really as lifeless as Browning’s del Sarto thinks? (‘All is silver-grey,/Placid and perfect with my art: the worse!’ 98-99). Fifty-seven Fra Lippo Lippi images are viewable here: it’s not so clear which specific Lippi works Browning had in mind when he wrote the ‘Fra Lippo Lippi’ dramatic monologue, but he was certainly familiar with the frescoes at Prato cathedral, near Florence:



A close up of that one:


The guy on the left right who looks a bit like Phil Mitchell?  That’s supposed to be a self-portrait by Lippi himself.  I like this three chins.  [AR]

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Reading for Aestheticism & Decadence: Swinburne

November 17, 2008 at 6:18 pm (Aestheticism)

Hellenistic sculpture of Hermaphrodite (Louvre)

Hellenistic sculpture of Hermaphrodite (Louvre)

Symphony in White no.2 (1864)

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, The Little White Girl: Symphony in White no.2 (1864)

Simeon Solomon, Damon and Aglae (1866)

Simeon Solomon, Damon and Aglae (1866)


Dear All,

All of the poems set for this week are taken from Swinburne’s explosive debut verse volume, Poems and Ballads: First Series (1866). They can be read online at

Three of the poems refer to separate artworks (shown at the head of the post).
1.’Before the Mirror’ to James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s The Little White Girl: Symphony in White no.2 (1864) (Tate)
2.’Erotion’ to Simeon Solomon’s painting Damon and Aglae (exhib. RA 1866)
3.’Hermaphroditus’ to the Hellinistic sculpture of Hermaphrodite, also known as the Borghese Hermaphrodite (in the Louvre, where Swinburine viewed it)

I will bring copies of the essay on your reading list – Swinburne’s ‘Simeon Solomon: notes on his “Vision of Love”‘ – to class on Thursday.

I look forward to hearing your responses to these texts!

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Matthew Arnold’s Preface to Poems (1853)

November 5, 2008 at 12:52 pm (Aestheticism) ()

I’ve been asked whether the text of this famous preface is available online. Probably the best bet is Google books: here for example (under the slightly odd title ‘Poetry and the Classics’; but it is the 1853 Preface), or here. It’s also the first essay in this Project Gutenburg edition; scroll down a little. [AR]

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EN5280 Aestheticism and Decadence

September 29, 2008 at 10:50 am (Aestheticism) (, )

Some possible critical reading for the class on Ruskin on Thursday:

John Dixon Hunt, ‘”Ut Pictura Poesis”‘ The Picturesque and John Ruskin’ MLN, Vol. 93, No. 5 Comparative Literature, pp.794-818. The essay is available on JSTOR, here.

Wendell V. Harris, ‘Ruskin’s Theoretic Practicality and the Royal Academy’s Aesthetic idealism’, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol.52, No. 1 (June 1997), pp. 80-102. [JSTOR]

Elizabeth K. Helsinger, Ruskin and the Art of the Beholder (Harvard University Press, 1982) [Google books]

Kenneth Daley, The Rescue of Romanticism: Walter Pater and John Ruskin (Ohio University press, 2001) [Google books]

Robert Hewison, John Ruskin: The Argument of the Eye (Princeton University Press, 1976)

Richard L. Stein, The Ritual of Interpretation: The Fine Arts as Literature in Ruskin, Rosetti and Pater (Harvard University press, 1975) [Google books]

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