Aestheticism (also the Aesthetic Movement) is an art movement supporting the emphasis of aesthetic values more than social-political themes for literature, fine art, music and other arts. It was particularly prominent in Europe during the 19th century. n the 19th century, it was related to other movements such as symbolism or decadence represented in France, or decadentismo represented in Italy, and may be considered the British version of the same style.
The British decadent writers were much influenced by the Oxford professor Walter Pater and his essays published during 1867–68, in which he stated that life had to be lived intensely, with an ideal of beauty. His text Studies in the History of the Renaissance (1873) was very well regarded by art-oriented young men of the late 19th century. Writers of the Decadent movement used the slogan “Art for Art’s Sake" (L’art pour l’art). The artists and writers of Aesthetic style tended to profess that the Arts should provide refined sensuous pleasure, rather than convey moral or sentimental messages. The Aesthetes developed a cult of beauty, which they considered the basic factor of art. Life should copy Art, they asserted. They considered nature as crude and lacking in design when compared to art. The main characteristics of the style were: suggestion rather than statement, sensuality, great use of symbols, and synaesthetic effects—that is, correspondence between words, colours and music. Music was used to establish mood.
In Britain the best representatives were Oscar Wilde and Algernon Charles Swinburne, both influenced by the French Symbolists, and James McNeill Whistler and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The novels of Evelyn Waugh, who was a young participant of aesthete society at Oxford, describe the aesthetes mostly satirically, but also as a former participant. Some names associated with this assemblage are Robert Byron, Evelyn Waugh, Harold Acton, Nancy Mitford, A.E. Housman and Anthony Powell.Artists associated with the Aesthetic style include James McNeill Whistler, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Aubrey Beardsley.
Production of Aesthetic style furniture was limited to approximately the late 19th century. Aesthetic style furniture is characterized by several common themes: Ebonized wood with gilt highlights, Far Eastern influence, Prominent use of nature, especially flowers, birds, ginkgo leaves, and peacock feathers, Blue and white on porcelain and other fine china.
As aesthetic movement decor was similar to the corresponding writing style in that it was about sensuality and nature, nature themes often appear on the furniture. A typical aesthetic feature is the gilded carved flower, or the stylized peacock feather. Colored paintings of birds or flowers are often seen.
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