Christopher Wood, Lionel Lambourne, and others have discussed the many currents that flowed into late-nineteenth-century British Aestheticism. although this movement in painting is generally associated with Sir Edward Burne-Jones and his followers, the late Pre-Raphaelite followers, such as Strudwick and J. W. Waterhouse, Wood points out the existence of a strong Classical component, and many painters, including Burne-Jones himself, Laurence Alma Tadema and Waterhouse, painted both medieval and classical subjects. Examining the end of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth, Simon Toll points to another group that fits comfortably under the umbella term Aestheticism:
Waterhouse, Dicksee, Watson, Draper, Hacker and Nowell have been described as 'Late Romantics', 'Olympians', or 'Late Pre-Raphaelites', but their sophisticated academic style based upon French Salon art is not satisfactorily categorised by these broad terms. It has not be en recognised that, like the Marble School or the Aesthetics, this circle of younger painters' work is correlated enough to be described as a sub-movement of academic idealism. Most of the exponents were trained at the Royal Academy and in Paris and were drawn to mythological and poetic narratives with a strong sensual or dramatic charge. Almost every member of the group lived in or around St John's Wood and was a member of the Art Workers' Guild, the St John's Wood Art Club and the Royal Academy. A suitable term would be the St John's Wood Clique, had this label not already been assigned to a preceding circle. The Greeks had a word to describe Draper and his friends, nympholeptos, meaning one who becomes delirious on being captured by nymphs.' Few members of the circle could resist the nymphs' seductive charm and, as Truth stated, 1897 was . . .an exceptional year for sea sprites, and naiads, and water nymphs of divers kinds. There were so many mermaids and sirens at Burlington House that a critic predicted that the room in which they hung was . . . likely to be known as the Mermaid's Cavern. [84-85]
Toll, Simon. Herbert Draper, 1863-1920: A Life Study. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors Club, 2003.
Wood, Christopher. Olympian Dreamers: Victorian Classical Painters, 1860-1914. London: Constable, 1983.
Last modified 19 November 2006