Skip navigation

Art History Lecture

BEAUTY AND ORNAMENT: The Aesthetic Movement

The phrase 'l'art pour l'art' (art for art's sake) was the rallying cry of the 19th C poet and art critic Théophile Gautier. He argued that art should not have a moral purpose, but be beautiful for its own sake.

The idea caught in England during the 1860s with a group of radical artists: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, Frederic Leighton, Albert Moore, and the American James Whistler.

Aestheticism spread rapidly amongst the chattering classes, into people's homes. We will explore key artworks by the artists at the forefront of the movement.