The Holland Park Circle

Artists and Victorian Society
Dakers, Caroline
Date published: 
November 1999

The reign of Queen Victoria witnessed a spectacular rise in the visibility, wealth, and prestige of English artists and designers. Leading this resurgence was a group of artists who established their studios in and around the new, fashionable district of London's Holland Park. This book - the first major study of the Holland Park Circle of artists, architects, and their patrons - is both an engrossing narrative of their lives, works, and influence and a preceptive analysis of the subtle relationships between high Victorian taste and mercantile values.

The circle was formed around G.F. Watts, who lived at Little Holland House; the handsome and accomplished Frederic Leighton; and their friend Valentine Prinsep. The artists who followed included Luke Fildes, Hamo Thornycroft, William Burges, Marcus Stone, James Jebusa Shannon, and Holman Hunt. Their studio-houses, designed by prominent architects of the era, were featured in architectural journals and society magazines, influencing the external and internal appearance of London's buildings.

Caroline Dakers also describes how the artists posed 'at home' for society photographs and how their 'Show Sundays', when the public was invited into the studios, became part of the London Season. She presents a fresh perspective on a period when art in England, in the words of Henry James, had become a 'great fashion'.