Victorians

‘Pit Brow Lasses’, 2015, by David Venables

Women’s toplessness caused less offence to Victorians than their trousers

20 October 2018 9:00 am

‘They did not look like women, or at least a stranger new to the district might easily have been misled…

The head of Jeremy Bentham, who died in 1832

What can we learn from Jeremy Bentham’s pickled head?

18 November 2017 9:00 am

Under the central dome of UCL — an indoor crossroads where hordes of students come and go on their way…

Bristol ablaze: anger at the Lords’ rejection of the Second Reform Bill sparked riots in Queen’s Square, Bristol, October 1831 (William James Muller)

Britain über alles: Victorious Century reviewed

23 September 2017 9:00 am

The 19th-century belonged to us, according to David Cannadine’s ambitious new history. Jane Ridley is mesmerised by it

Hope, the blue whale, replaces Dippy, the diplodocus, in the Natural History Museum’s Hintze Hall

The newly refurbished Natural History Museum is glorious

12 August 2017 9:00 am

Sometimes, it pays to rediscover what’s already under your nose. I’ve been umpteen times to the Natural History Museum but…

A picture of pure energy: Watts’s ‘The Sower of Systems’, 1902

The Victorian artist who was more Jackson Pollock than Pre-Raphaelite

29 July 2017 9:00 am

On his deathbed in 1904, George Frederic Watts saw a extraordinary spectacle. He witnessed the universe coming into being: the…

Orchidelirium: Being mad about flowers can help you stay sane

1 July 2017 9:00 am

Being mad about flowers can help you stay sane

Hardy perennial: a crowd in the V&A Cast Courts

The best – and worst – places for a V&A assignation

24 September 2016 9:00 am

Thomas Hardy, while still married to his first wife Emma, but arranging assignations in London with Florence, his second-wife-to-be, used…

George Cruikshank’s illustration for ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens

Mutton, potatoes and ale – how children ate in the 19th century

24 September 2016 9:00 am

Modern Britain scratches its head over children who are overfed, not underfed, while guilt-ridden mothers stand accused of feeding children…

ITV's Victoria is silly, facile and irresponsible – I blame the feminisation of culture

17 September 2016 9:00 am

Did you know that Queen Victoria might never have married Prince Albert had it not been for an amazing stroke…

Sonya Yoncheva is sensational in Royal Opera’s triumphant new Norma

17 September 2016 9:00 am

The Royal Opera has opened the season with a triumph, and in one of the most difficult of operas, Bellini’s…

Out of spirits: ‘Glory be to God’, c.1868, by Georgiana Houghton

A pioneering 19th-century abstract artist is brought back to life at the Courtauld

18 June 2016 9:00 am

Georgiana Houghton’s abstract ‘Spirit Drawings’ were way ahead of their time, says Simon Grant. No wonder the Victorians didn’t get her

‘The Woodman’s Child’, 1860, by Arthur Hughes

Twee, treacly and tearful: Pre-Raphaelites at the Walker Art Gallery reviewed

27 February 2016 9:00 am

Dear, good, kind, sacrificing Little Nell. Here she is kneeling by a wayside pond, bonnet pushed back, shoes and stockings…

Banish the canapé and give me a cocktail sausage!

2 January 2016 9:00 am

Let’s get rid of these ridiculous thimble-sized offerings

Victorian music-hall comedy wasn’t funny. Why pretend it was?

5 December 2015 9:00 am

Let’s start this week with a joke: ‘You know Mrs Kelly? Do you know Mrs Kelly? Her husband’s that little…

‘The Wilderness, Hartwell House, Buckinghamshire’ by Balthasar Nebot

Why is the garden absent in English painting?

8 August 2015 9:00 am

One of the default settings of garden journalists is the adjective ‘painterly’ — applied to careful colour harmonies within a…

The artist who only turned into a major painter once he became a homicidal maniac

25 July 2015 9:00 am

Charles Dickens’s description of Cobham Park, Kent, in The Pickwick Papers makes it seem a perfect English landscape. Among its…

Conservator Johanna Puisto dusts the cast of Michelangelo’s ‘David’ post-conservation, November 2014

The reopened V&A Cast Courts are a fabulous spectacle of Victorian theft and reverence

22 November 2014 9:00 am

The great municipal museums are products of the 19th-century imagination, evidence of lofty ambitions and cringe-making limitations. They are exact…

‘Rain, Steam and Speed — The Great Western Railway’, 1844, by J.M.W. Turner

Tate Britain’s Turner show reveals an old master - though the Spectator didn’t think so at the time

27 September 2014 9:00 am

Juvenilia is the work produced during an artist’s youth. It would seem logical to think, therefore, that an artist’s output…

Introducing the celebs of Victorian reality TV

12 October 2013 9:00 am

Did Dr Jekyll turn into Jack the Ripper? Besides becoming evil Mr Hyde, did Robert L. Stevenson’s fictional creation morph…