This handsome volume is the first authoritative survey of one of the most intriguing periods of British art-the radically innovative decade of the 1860s. The book explores new developments in English painting of this period, focusing on the early work of Edward Burne-Jones, Frederic Leighton, Albert Moore, Edward Poynter, Simeon Solomon, and James McNeill Whistler, as well as on paintings by Frederick Sandys and the older G. F. Watts, and by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his Pre-Raphaelite colleagues Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais.
Allen Staley argues that engagement in the decorative arts, particularly by Burne-Jones, Moore, and Poynter at the outset of their careers, led to a transcending of traditional expectations of painting, making abstract formal qualities, or beauty for beauty's sake, the main goal. Rather than being about what it depicts, the painting itself becomes its own subject. The New Painting of the 1860s examines the interplay among the artists and the shared ambitions underlying their works, giving impetus to what would soon come to be known as the Aesthetic Movement.