The relationship of fine art and the poor in late nineteenth century England
The purpose of this thesis, which is concerned with the meeting
of fine art and the poor at the end of the nineteenth century, is to show
that the problem of the poor which loomed so large at this period did not
leave fine art untouched. Fine art's awareness was shown in two distinct
ways: it produced a solution to this problem - pictures for the poor --
and it showed a reaction to this problem -- pictures of the poor. The
solution lay in the manner in which fine art through specially mounted
exhibitions was seen to possess the ability to elevate the poor, both
spiritually and, more surprisingly, materially. The reaction lay in the
way in which such major social problems of the period as drink, poverty
and unemployment were dealt with in a handful of paintings at this time.
Following the Introduction, the work falls into two sections.
The first section, Chapters One to Seven, is an account of the fine art
exhibitions put on for the poor in the last two decades of the century
in the East End of London. The second section, Chapters Eight to Eleven,
is a discussion of the so-called social realist paintings which appeared
at the Royal Academy summer exhibitions from 1870 onwards.