The Classical Sleeping Beauties of Albert Joseph Moore

Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893) from ‘Magazine of Art’ (1884). Source: The Victorian Web.

Albert Joseph Moore (4 September 1841 – 25 September 1893) – also known as just Albert Moore – was an English painter who became pretty well-known for his depictions of languorous female figures set against luxurious classical settings, artworks which he started painting from the mid-1860s onwards. These paintings usually featured female figures in different states of consciousness, often sleeping or drowsing, wearing neo-classical drapery and floral accessories. This trend gave way to what later became known as the Aesthetic Movement during the Victorian Era in England. Moore devoted himself entirely to this type of art, carefully thought out and painstakingly rooted in the true Hellenistic spirit.

Albert Moore was the son of William Moore and Sarah Collingham. Both William and Sarah had numerous children with other people. Albert was William’s thirteenth son, and fourteenth of Sarah. Most of Albert Moore’s siblings were artists themselves. One of his brothers was Henry Moore, an English landscape and marine painter (not to be confused with the “abstractionist” sculptor of the same name). When Moore’s father (and first art mentor) died in 1851 he (Albert) was taken care of by his brother, John Collingham Moore who happened to be an accomplished artist as well.

The Aesthetic Development of Albert Moore by Asleson – Supplemet To The Illustrated London News (1894).

It is said that Albert Moore never married or had any children, but I suspect that he could have had some sort of “relationship” with one of his preferred models (even if only platonically-wise), namely the famous actress known as Ellen Terry, but I have not found any evidence to support my suspicion. Ellen Terry* was featured prominently in many of Moore’s works, so much so that what we actually see in paintings such as Dreamers (1879-82) is basically Terry being pictured several times in different positions. Regardless this is my own opinion, I invite the reader to take a look and elaborate for himself/herself.

As his official biography puts it Albert Moore’s paintings were frequently “sold off the easel before completion”, but it was not until late in his life that he was able to obtain what may be called a “direct patronage”. Shame that it took such a long time for a talent like Moore’s to be appreciated accordingly.

I think, by taken a look to the gallery below, many people will recognize famous artworks such as Dreamers (1879-82), Midsummer (1887), A Summer Night (1890), Reading Aloud (c.1884), and one of my favourites; Silver (1886). Albert Moore’s interest in the science of mind and sensory experience through the human figure (in this case female figure) was accurately reflected in such splendid images.

Albert Moore met an untimely death on September 25, 1893 in Westminster (London) when he was only 52 years of age, suffering from a painful and incurable illness. Moore however worked until his last breath: His final painting The Loves of the Seasons and the Winds was completed that same year. Moore was buried at the Highgate Cemetery in London. Shortly after his death, exhibitions were held at public museums in Birmingham, Manchester and many other cities in England.

Nowadays Albert Moore’s works can be found in museums all across Britain, most especially in the British Museum and in the Victoria and Albert Museum both in London.

I hope people here will enjoy the art of Albert Joseph Moore. As always comments will be appreciated.

Albert Moore’s entire biography can be found in the Victorian Era website.

* Ellen Terry was used as model by other artists of the period. Painter George Frederic Watts, a man who Terry married at 16 to divorce a short time later, featured her in his famous painting entitled ‘Choosing’ (circa 1864) among other artworks. Another example of Ellen Terry being used as artistic model is ‘Lady Macbeth’ by John Singer Sargent, painted in 1889. Because of Watts’s paintings of her and her association with him, Ellen Terry “became a cult figure for poets and painters of the later Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic movements, including Oscar Wilde”.

Sources: Victorian Era, The Victorian Web and wikipedia.


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