• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Art
  • Word count: 2742

What do Victorian paintings of religious subjects and themes reveal about Victorian attitudes and values.

Extracts from this document...


What do Victorian paintings of religious subjects and themes reveal about Victorian attitudes and values. Victorian values and attitudes to such painting must be considered in the light of their times as it will undoubtedly affect or alter their beliefs causing controversy over certain images and approval or acceptance of others. Queen Victoria's reign was extremely long from 1837 to1901, and saw many social and technological changes, the population changed from being primarily agrarian to industrial and urbanised. A succession of bad harvests in the 1840's had brought starvation and 1848 was a year of revolutions across Europe, reverberating social unease between the rich and the poor, and to add to this period of tension there was serious division within the Church of England. The Victorian age was predominately Christian but Protestantism which many felt was central to national identity, and had up until recent times been the dominant religion was now seen as under "threat", by the growth of Catholicism. The cause of this was two-fold, firstly the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 had given the Catholics citizenship rights previously denied and a huge influx of Irish catholic immigrants had led to a growth in Catholicism which many people held with suspicion and even fear. In 1850 the Pope Pius 1X had re-established the Roman Catholic hierarchy in England, a move so unpopular to cause civil unrest in the form of the so called "No popery riots". ...read more.


In later works Millais steered towards main stream subject matter, and achieved wealth and respectability by painting stirring historical scenes, society portraits, and sentimental pictures of children and lovers. He continued to paint pictures on religious themes but fitting in with the mind frame of the time. This abandonment of Pre-Raphaelite principles angered some of its members who thought Millais had sold out to public opinion and profitability. One of Millais's most popular works was 'A Huguenot on St Bartholomew's Day, refusing to shield Himself from Danger by Wearing the Roman Catholic Badge,' inscribed by the artist 1852. This was based on an incident that occurred in Paris in 1572.The painting shows a Catholic girl trying to persuade her Protestant Huguenot lover to escape the massacre by binding a white cloth around his arm thus identifying himself as a Catholic and saving himself. But while one hand holds the head of his beloved the other hand tries to pull away the cloth, the implication being that he would rather die than deny his faith. The inspiration for this painting was based on a verse from Meyerbeer's opera Les Hugenots performed regularly at Covent Garden since 1848 which Millais had recently seen. Victorians were very keen on the symbolism denoted by certain plants and flowers. This so called language of flowers was put to good effect by Millais in this painting; Ivy covering there wall can stand for friendship in adversity, the Canterbury bell in the bottom left side represents constancy or faith and the nasturtiums, patriotism or loyalty. ...read more.


The painting was sold for its full asking price of 300 guineas by the eminent naturalist W.J .Broderip. In later years when dialectic paintings had fallen out of fashion, Hunt wrote; 'In a letter to J.E. Phythian(MAG) Hunt explained his reluctance 'to force the moral' of the painting as he must have realised that too intellectual interpretation would deflect attention from the work's sensual, physical qualities.' Parris Tate Gallery pub. 1984. To give you an idea of how a contemporary art critic reviewed this work, a critic in the British quarterly review of August 1852 remarked; 'the very reflectiveness of Hunt inclines him a little more than might be wished to conceptions of his own having a doctrinal purport' Another of Hunt's paintings achieved international recognition and became one of if not the most famous religious painting of its day. Although it was not received well initially at the 1854 Royal Academy exhibition probably because of its unconventional treatment of the subject matter, the risen Christ, it went on to become a Protestant icon and a copy of it, by Hunt was presented to St. Paul's Cathedral by Charles Booth in 1908. The June Art Journal of 1854 criticised Hunt for realising the ideal; 'The knocking at the door of the soul is a spiritual figure of such exaltation that it must lose by any reduction to common forms'.. Ruskin defended Hunt and in a letter to the Times explained the symbolism at length, and concluded that it was 'one of the noblest works of sacred art ever produced in this or any other age'.Parris 1984. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Art section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Art essays

  1. The Development of Landscape Painting in the Italian Renaissance.

    The setting for The Virgin of The Rocks is not just a backdrop, nor is it an actual place. The landscape is enigmatic and is perhaps meant as a symbolic extension of the figures represented in the foreground.11 Unlike the drawing that includes the hills as a way to suggest

  2. Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon and Guernica

    visit to Paris' Ethographic Museum in the same year when he was working on Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. Picasso was so impressed by the African art that he decided to rework his painting and change the faces of the two figures to the right.

  1. Mythological themes in Botticelli’s work.

    She does not symbolize the same lusty lady of mythology, but an innocent being who radiates tenderness.5 Her look is one of blessing and spiritual joy. The scene in the right-hand of the painting depicts the metamorphosis of Chloris into Flora.

  2. The Scream: A Description and Interpretation.

    I believe that the central figure in the picture is representative of humanity and the reality of human life in society as one of struggle, suffering and loneliness. The figure cries out in pain at the reality of difficulty and strife in life and the constant fear of illness and death, always present to those who are alive.

  1. Active reading notes

    Offred hates Serena and vice versa because they aren't allowed to understand one another and make a relationship, instead they are used only to repopulate Gilead, Offred makes the bay, and Serena nurtures it. * "Today there are different flowers, drier, more defined, the flowers of high summer: daisies, black-eyed

  2. attitude to reading

    Furthermore, reading in my language gave me a good edge over my mates in school because when I moved to the city there were good job opportunities as a language teacher to teach little children and adults my native language because in most of the schools students were given opportunities

  1. theatre review

    He made the piece flow very swiftly, by using different tones and gestures. There were several techniques used such as Edward using a lot of facial expressions such as raising his eyebrows and screwing up his face to show his multiple emotions: grief, annoyance and frustration with the non-existent funeral guests, for example.

  2. Anna Frank, and the Frank Family.

    Muri� el 19 de agosto de 1980. Hab�a dedicado el resto de su vida a publicar el diario de su hija y a difundir su mensaje. Margot Frank: Margot es la hermana mayor de Ana. De ella no se habla demasiado, la verdad.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work