About the Exhibit
THE QUEEN’S GALLERY is a remarkable Victorian exhibition on loan from two of California’s most passionate and highly respected collectors, Dr. Howard and Linda Knohl. Unprecedented in its breadth and depth, this extraordinary exhibition brings Victorian England to life.
Queen Victoria’s reign (1837-1901) was a time of tumultuous social and political change; a ferment of new ideas, scientific discoveries and rapid imperial expansion. Within a few short decades the small island of England transformed from an agricultural society into an industrial superpower with an empire that spanned every continent and covered one quarter of the Earth's land mass.
During this period, the British art world had an enormous international influence. With the improvement in steam technology and the increased use of the steamship, British artists began to travel to distant lands spreading their new attitudes, values, and artistic curiosity. At the same time, artists from around the world converged on the UK – crossing the continents to admire, purchase and to study with Britain's boldest and best.
The QUEENS GALLERY features over 60 masterpieces by leading artists of the Victorian Era. Many of the artists showcased in THE QUEEN’S GALLERY were members of London's Royal Academy of Arts, the most prestigious art academy of the day. This collection provides the rare opportunity to view a masterpiece by James Sant, official portrait artist to Queen Victoria, as well as paintings by Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema, one of the most famous artists of this period. Also featured is a preliminary sketch of a stained glass panel designed by the illustrious Victorian figure, Edward Burne-Jones, an artist associated with the late Pre-Raphaelite movement.
The exhibition explores the close affiliation between the visual art of this era and literature, pairing many of the paintings with the poems and literary subjects which inspired them. An example of this partnership between poet and painter is Una and the Red Cross Knight, a watercolor by Corbould, the Royal Family’s painting instructor. The image is a visual rendition of a poignant scene from the “Faerie Queene,” an epic poem written by British poet Edmund Spenser. Many artists from this period were motivated by ancient legends and Greek myths. Representative of this genre is William T. Maud’s The Ride of the Valkyries, the breathtaking, larger-than-life painting inspired by Norse mythology and Wagner's opera of the same name.
One of the most popular, prolific, and probably the highest paid artist of the Victorian era was William Powell Frith. A favorite of the Royal Family and a good friend of Charles Dickens, Frith was known for painting scenes from contemporary literature, highlighting the social inequalities of the time. This exhibit features the Frith painting Dr. Johnson’s Tardy Gallantry, a richly detailed street scene described in James Bosewell’s autobiography of Samuel Johnson. Also Included in the collection are two wonderful works by Marcus C. Stone, known for his illustrations of Charles Dickens’ novels and scenes from Shakespeare's plays.
More than more than 400 personal and decorative objects from the British Empire accompany the incredible artwork - from walking sticks and weapons to match safes and music boxes, from ivory sculptures and bronze statues to household necessities and fashion accessories - each of the objects on display offers a window into this significant period in history, and collectively delivers a rich mix of visual stimulation, narrative intrigue and social commentary.