His paintings were quintessentially Victorian: fussy, florid as a midsummer
garden, stuffed with detail; also exotic, erotic, and always entirely proper.
His name was Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893). He was the youngest of 15 children
of a provincial (York) portrait painter, precocious, and one of the four who
followed his father's profession. At age 17 he entered the Royal Academy Schools
in London. For a time, he designed tiles and wallpaper for the firm of Morris,
Marshall, Faulkner & Co and painted murals in the churches and country
homes of England. He was a friend of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, whose
works he influenced, and supported him in the infamous "farthing libel suit"
against the powerful critic John Ruskin. He went abroad twice: the first time
at age 18, when he went to France with the architect William Eden Nesfield,
the second time at age 21, when he went to Rome with his artist brother John
Collingham, some 12 years his senior. He belonged to the "Art for Art's Sake"
school of aesthetics: the sole purpose of art was beauty; form, composition,
and color were only the means of getting there. His style was Classical, his
mentor the art of ancient Greece, his models the Parthenon sculptures brought
to Britain by Lord Elgin in the early 1800s. The so-called Elgin Marbles,
they now resided in the British Museum, where he studied them intensively.
Southgate MT. Midsummer. JAMA. 1999;282(3):214. doi:10.1001/jama.282.3.214