An ambitious new book, titled Edwardian Opulence, explores the work of celebrated Edwardian artists and photographers...
King Edward VII’s brief reign at the beginning of the 20th century (1901 – 1910) is considered a time of great technological advancement, increased globalism, and a febrile period for British artists, many of whom concentrated on depicting the personalities and lifestyles of the leisured class. An ambitious new book, titled Edwardian Opulence, catalogues the work of various Edwardian artists, including Whistler, Sargent, and Shannon, and is the "first survey in more than a generation of the full breadth and depth of the elite visual culture of Britain in the brief but complex reign of king Edward VII."
"The first survey in more than a generation of the full breadth and depth of the elite visual culture of Britain in the brief but complex reign of king Edward VII."
Included within these pages is a treasure trove of autochrome prints, an early colour photo process invented by the Lumière brothers, and first made available in 1907. Some of the images are of modern, bohemian-looking women, and stand in stark relief to the mostly stiff and posed black and white portraits of the Victorian Era – signalling the beginning of photography as an artistic medium rather than simply a means of documentation. American-born Alvin Langdon Coburn was considered one of the best photographers of his day, capturing famous writers including G.K. Chesterton and H.G. Wells. Another, Etheldreda Janet Laing, studied drawing at Cambridge and often photographed her daughters in the garden. Mervyn O’Gorman, also an early autochrome adopter, was an aeronautical engineer by trade, a motoring pioneer, and an artist and photographer in his own right. Below, we present images from some of these early colour photographers.
Edwardian Opulence: British Art at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century is now available from Yale University Press.
Text by Ananda Pellerin
Ananda Pellerin is a London-based writer and regular contributor to anothermag.com.