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Transformative BeautyArt Museums in Industrial Britain$
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Amy Woodson-Boulton

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780804778046

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804778046.001.0001

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Recovering Victorian Ideas About Art, Beauty, and Society

(p.1) Introduction
Transformative Beauty
Stanford University Press

This book investigates the complex link between a period's governing aesthetics and its public use of art. It argues that the art museums of Liverpool, Manchester, and Birmingham were part of a broad reaction to industrial, capitalist society. Art presents philanthropy or civic pride, and museums could be significant scenes for the display of middle-class cultural dreams. Art museums take middle-class ideals to the center of industrial cities. John Ruskin has combined the romantic idea of the artist as revealing the “invisible world” with an evangelical language that no doubt comforted his many middle-class readers. In the association between Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites, art criticism, practice, and patronage have combined to specify categories of traditional aesthetics. The book reports a unified museum movement that functioned through the art, ideas, and social networks of the late nineteenth century. Finally, an overview of the chapters included in this book is given.

Keywords:   art, art museums, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, John Ruskin, traditional aesthetics, museum movement, social networks

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