Victorians‎ > ‎

Victorian Art and Photography

Lots of Victorians used their talents to design and create art work for people to admire:
  • William Morris was famous for designing repeating patterns to use for wallpapers or textiles. Many of these were based on a close observation of nature.
Brooklyn Museum - Wallpaper Sample Book 1 - William Morris and Company - page031     Brooklyn Museum - Wallpaper Sample Book 1 - William Morris and Company - page039
  • The Liberty works at Merton Abbey Mills in south London produced beautiful block-printed silks by hand. These made Arthur Liberty, who opened the Liberty department store in London in 1875, an important figure in the arts and crafts movement, which rejected the mass-produced workmanship of the industrial age. They supplied beautiful materials for dresses and decorating the house, but in quantities and at a price that made them available to the wider general public.
Morris and Company Textile Printing Merton Abbey
  • In March 1856, William Perkin created a purple dye (aniline) from coal tar. This was the first artificial dye and it became extremely popular among textile manufacturers because it was cheaper and easier to produce than natural dyes.
William Perkin
  • The weekly Punch magazine was founded on 17th July 1841. It helped to coin the term 'cartoon' in its modern sense as a comic drawing by printing illustrations that mocked the news at the time.
Punch magazine cover 1916 april 26 volume 150 no 3903
  • Silhouette portrait pictures cut from thin black card became a cheap and novelty way of sharing a picture of yourself with others. 
  • On the 23rd September 1840, William Fox Talbot invented the calotype positive/negative process for using light sensitive photographic paper to produce photographs.
William Henry Fox Talbot, by John Moffat, 1864
  • In 1859, Francis Frith opened the firm of Francis Frith & Co. in Surrey, the world's first specialist photographic publisher. He embarked on the enormous project of photographing all the notable historical or interesting sights across the UK and within a few years over two thousand shops were selling postcards with his photos on them. Many of these were printed in a reddish-brown colour called sepia.

  • In 1843 the first Christmas card was created and sent, designed by John Calcott Horsley. A thousand copies of the card were printed and sold for one shilling, starting an annual tradition.
  • Many factory towns began to build new, grand town halls. Manchester Town Hall was completed in 1877. It is designed in a style called 'neo-gothic', based on the cathedrals and churches of the Medieval period.
Manchester town hall 2009 wide angle