Paintings from the Reign of Victoria

Free to the public! Paintings from the Reign of Victoria: The Royal Holloway Collection, London illustrates some of the highest achievements in figurative and landscape art of the nineteenth century. Acquired by Thomas Holloway to enhance the women’s college he founded in 1879, the collection includes many of the most visible and praised “modern canvasses” in London in the 1880s.

The Museum of Art is delighted to be one of seven American venues in this historic tour of a splendid collection of Victorian paintings from Royal Holloway College, University of London. Thomas Holloway, a highly successful British entrepreneur, amassed the collection between 1881 and 1883 for the art museum at the women’s college that he had just established. In one of the great spending sprees in art history, he purchased 77 paintings, almost all by outstanding contemporary British painters. In the process, he broke records for the highest auction prices for works of this period and acquired a number of major masterpieces.

All of the 60 works in this exhibition are painted in the meticulously realistic style popular in late 19th-century Britain. Their brilliant colors, fine craftsmanship, and, in some cases, large size give them great presence and emotional power. They include imaginative portrayals of historical events, picturesque landscapes, and dramatic scenes of Victorian urban and rural life. Visitors to this exhibition will see a remarkable cross-section of British artistic achievements at the apogée of the Empire’s prosperity and confidence.

Paintings From the Reign of Victoria