Monday, 29 September 2008

Draped Venus: Pomegranates and others by Albert Moore


Albert Moore (4 September 1841 – 25 September 1893) was a lesser known Victorian classicist painter whose work largely featured draped women in classical or medieval settings.

He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1857 but his major paintings started around ten years later. He was skilled in the decorative arts designing tiles, wallpaper and stained glass. Moore produced many murals, notably at Coombe Abbey which saw the beginning of his classical style. His love for decoration is evident from the busy backgrounds of his paintings which dominate in such a way that his paintings can seem claustrophobic as the pictures often just contain figures against a wall who blend into the background.

The Dreamers

Many of his women lounge around langourously but his use of colour, which tends to cover a fairly narrow palate, never suggests the bright light and Mediterranean heat the poses seem to suggest (cf JW Godward). In his picture The Dreamers the cream colours and soft tones never seem to capture the eye, the effect being to induce the same sort of ennui that the three girls (actually one model in three poses- there is no attempt to differentiate them) display. Unlike Alma-Tadema or Lord Leighton there is never a story behind his paintings they are pictures for their own sake, not much more than the wallpaper he designed for William Morris.

The White Symphony: Three Girls 1867 by JM Whistler

Moore was a great influence on James McNeill Whistler who was initially much influenced by his classicism. Whistler's painting, The White Symphony: Three Girls follows the composition of Moore's 1866 painting Pomegranates very closely.

Pomegranates 1866

Moore's greates talent was in painting drapery and he spent long hours practising his skills in this area.

Silver 1886

As a result he produced some splendid peek-a-boo maidens in see through clothes but all within the realms of respectability because of their classical settings.

A Workbasket 1879

Because of the prevalence of drapery in his paintings his nudes look even more naked, as if they are, indeed, missing something.

A Venus 1869

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