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Private View of the Old Masters Exhibition, Royal Academy, 1888

1 of 4 portraits of Victoria Marjorie Harriet Paget (née Manners), Marchioness of Anglesey

Private View of the Old Masters Exhibition, Royal Academy, 1888, by Henry Jamyn Brooks, 1889 - NPG 1833 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Private View of the Old Masters Exhibition, Royal Academy, 1888

by Henry Jamyn Brooks
oil on canvas, 1889
60 7/8 in. x 106 7/8 in. (1545 mm x 2715 mm)
Given by Henry Jamyn Brooks, 1919
Primary Collection
NPG 1833


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Artistback to top

  • Henry Jamyn Brooks (1839-1925), Painter. Artist associated with 4 portraits, Sitter in 2 portraits.

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This portraitback to top

For the hundred years subsequent to its foundation in 1768, the Royal Academy of Arts dominated the contemporary British art scene. The annual exhibition, open to all-comers, was the proving ground for an artist's skill and reputation. Henry Jamyn Brooks was inspired to paint this group portrait by the example of William Powell Frith's painting The Private View at the Royal Academy, 1881. Brooks did not choose to depict, like Frith, the Summer Exhibition of contemporary art but instead one of the Winter Loan Exhibitions of Old Master paintings which began in 1870. The portrait features the cream of late Victorian society, including many leading artists, gathered before a display of fine paintings in Room 3 of the Royal Academy.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG x22540: Sir George Scharf (includes the portrait)
  • NPG x22541: Sir George Scharf (includes the portrait)
  • NPG x22542: Sir George Scharf (includes the portrait)
  • NPG D42236: Key to Private View of the Old Masters Exhibition, Royal Academy, 1888 (source portrait)

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Events of 1889back to top

Current affairs

The London Dock strike takes place resulting in a victory for the dock workers striking over pay and conditions. Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act, allowing legal intervention between children and parents for the first time. Charles Booth, the English social scientist, publishes the first volume of Life and Labour of the People, an extensive survey into the living conditions of London's East End working class communities.

Art and science

George Gissing's The Nether World, a dark account of the lives of the urban poor in Clerkenwell, is published. Gissing absorbs the French naturalist style of writers such as Emile Zola to produce a harshly realistic observation of life in London at the end of the nineteenth century.

International

The Eiffel Tower is erected, designed by the French engineer and bridge builder Alexandre Gustave Eiffel for the Paris Exposition. At 300m high, it was the tallest manmade structure in the world at the time. The Second International organisation is formed at a Congress in Paris by various socialist and labour parties, with the intention of working together for international socialism. It also declared 1 May International Labour Day.

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