The Cult of Beauty focuses on a period at the end of the nineteenth century when a group of artists, architects and designers found themselves linked by the search for a new Beauty. The Aesthetic Movement, as it came to be known, united romantic bohemians such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, along with maverick figures such as James McNeill Whistler. The Cult of Beauty brings together the finest pictures, furniture and decorative arts of this extraordinary era, setting them in the context of this glittering cast of characters. This beautiful book also reveals how artists' houses and their extravagant lifestyles became the object of public fascination. The influence of the 'Palaces of Art' created by Rossetti and Morris, Lord Leighton and others led to a widespread revolution in architecture and interior decoration, while Oscar Wilde made his name promoting the idea of 'The House Beautiful'.
Stephen Calloway is Curator of Prints at the V&A. He curated Aubrey Beardsley and edited the accompanying book (V&A 1998). Lynn Federle Orr is Curator in Charge of European Art at the Legion of Honor, showcasing the European collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.