1828 The French artist Paul Delaroche paints The Death of Elizabeth I, Queen of England, his first important work dealing with subjects from British history.

1829 Catholic Emancipation Act

1830 Delacroix paints Liberty at the Barricades.

         Sir Martin Archer Shee becomes President of the Royal Academy.

1832 The parliamentary Great Reform Act makes the United Kingdom into a more representative democracy. Voting is, however, still restricted to property owning males.

1833 First effective Factory Reform Act

         Abolition of slavery in British colonies

1834 Houses of Parliament burn down. Debate commences as to the possibility of commissioning frescoes for the new buildings.

         C.D. Friedrich paints The Large Enclosure, Dresden.

1836 Delaroche paints Strafford Led to Execution.

1837 20th June, Queen Victoria succeeds to throne following death of William IV.

         Death of Constable

1837 Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist published.

1838 First meetings of "The Clique." This was a drawing club established by Royal Academy students Richard Dadd, W.P. Frith, Augustus Egg, John Phillip, Alfred Elmore, Henry O'Neil, and Edward Ward. It had no formal "programme" but is generally recognized as the first "movement" in British art, through its championing of genre painting over traditional academic themes and methods.

1839 Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle published.

         Turner paints The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up.

1840 Queen Victoria marries Prince Albert.

         Former Nazarene Brotherhood member Peter von Cornelius completes his monumental Last Judgment in the Ludwigskirche, Munich.

1841 Royal Commission appointed to investigate the commissioning of frescoes for the new Houses of Parliament. Prince Albert chairs this Commission. Peter von Cornelius is one of those consulted in the course of its deliberations.

         In Paris, Delaroche completes the Hémicycle mural series.

1843 First volume of Modern Painters by John Ruskin appeared (written under the pseudonym "A graduate of Oxford").

         First winners of the competition for designs for frescoes in the Houses of Parliament are announced. The winners include G. F. Watts, and C. W. Cope.

         Richard Dadd murders his father, and is imprisoned in an asylum.

         "The Clique" breaks up.

1844 Turner paints Rain, Steam and Speed—The Great Western Railway.

1845 Onset of the Irish potato famine.

         The outstanding Church of England theologian John Henry Newman (later Cardinal Newman) causes cultural shockwaves by converting to Roman Catholicism.

1846 Ruskin's Modern Painters II published.

1847 Worst year of the Irish famine

         An important Factory Act is passed by parliament (the "10 Hours Bill").

         Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights are published.

1848 Revolutionary activity all over Europe

         Cholera epidemics lead to the first Public Health Act being passed by parliament.

         Foundation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood by the painters John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The painter James Collinson and sculptor Thomas Woolner become members later the same year, or in early 1849. Another painter—Frederick Stephens, and Dante's brother William Michael Rossetti also join but neither of them follow careers as artists.

         Work begins on the first of the newly commissioned frescoes for the Houses of Parliament.

1849 First works exhibited at the R.A. by members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. (Rossetti exhibits his painting at the Free Exhibition, Hyde Park Corner, in London.) The Brotherhood members each add the unexplained acronym "PRB" to their works, and have some success.

1850 The Pope decrees restitution of the Roman Catholic hierarchy and parishes in the United Kingdom. This causes widespread fear of "Papal aggression."

         Scandal concerning the discovery that "PRB" means "Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood" accompanied by controversy over their exhibits at the R.A., especially Millais's Christ in the House of His Parents. Charles Dickens savagely attacks the Millais painting in the Household Weekly. James Collinson resigns from the Brotherhood for religious reasons.

         Publication of the Pre-Raphaelite arts magazine/journal The Germ. It survives for four issues.

         Sir Charles Lock Eastlake becomes President of the Royal Academy.

         Courbet paints Funeral at Ornans.

1851 Great Exhibition/world fair held in London.

         Ruskin's letters defending the Pre-Raphaelites published in The Times newspaper.

         Death of Turner

1852 Thomas Woolner emigrates to Australia to prospect for gold.

         Millais exhibits Ophelia, and Holman Hunt The Hireling Shepherd at the R.A.

1853 Woolner returns. This is the final year when the members of the Pre-Raphaelite appear to affirm some basic group identity. Afterwards, Pre-Raphaelitism becomes mainly a stylistic phenomenon.

         Millais exhibits The Order of Release at the R.A.

1854 Crimean War begins (the United Kindom, France, and Turkey in conflict with Russia).

         Holman Hunt makes his first visit to the Holy Land.

1855 Exposition Universelle world fair held in Paris. Courbet exhibits The Artist's Studio at a Pavilion of Realism that he sets up to show works by him that were turned down by the Exposition.

         Frederic Leighton's painting Cimabue's Celebrated Madonna is Carried through the Streets of Florence is his first R.A. exhibit, and is bought by Queen Victoria.

         Ford Madox Brown completes The Last of England.

1856 Peace of Paris concludes Crimean War.

         Ruskin's Modern Painters vols. 3 and 4 published. Holman Hunt exhibits The Scapegoat at the R.A.

1857 Indian Mutiny

         Work begins on murals for the Oxford Union by Rossetti, Morris, Burne-Jones, Arthur Hughes and others. This creates, in effect, a second generation of painters and designers in the Pre-Raphaelite style. Ruskin's Elements of Drawing published.

         W. P. Frith's The Derby Day and Henry O'Neil's Eastward Ho! (representing troops embarking for India) are both enormously popular exhibits at the R.A.

1859 Publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species; John Stuart Mill's On Liberty; and Samuel Smiles's Self-Help.

         Work on the Oxford Union murals is completed.

1860 Ruskin's Modern Painters vol. 5 published.

         Publication of George Eliot's Mill on the Floss; Wilkie Collins's Woman in White; and Charles Dickens's Great Expectations.

1861 Death of Prince Albert

         Foundation of the Company, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. with Morris, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, and Ford Madox Brown as shareholders, and, in effect, employees

1862 G. F. Watts exhibits Sir Galahad at the Royal Academy.

         Ingres completes The Turkish Bath.

1863 Manet completes Dejeuner sur l'Herbe and Olympia.

         The Salon des Refusés is held in Paris, to show works turned down for exhibition at the Academy.

1865 Ford Madox Brown's Work completed.

         Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland published.

1866 Sir Francis Grant becomes President of the Royal Academy.

1867 Second Reform Act

1869 Publication of John Stuart Mill's Subjection of Women and Matthew Arnold's Culture and Anarchy.

1870 Franco-Prussian War

         A number of continental European artists including Claude Monet and Lucien Pisarro take refuge in the United Kingdom. Lawrence Alma-Tadema is one such refugee, and thereafter settles in the United Kingdom. Ruskin appointed Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford University.

         Parliament passes W. Forster's Education Act making school education compulsory for the first time.

         Millais's Boyhood of Raleigh exhibited at the R.A. Rossetti completes Beata Beatrix

1872 Publication of Samuel Butler's Erewhon and George Eliot's Middlemarch.

         Monet paints Impression, Sunrise.

1874 Morris buys out the other shareholders, and thereafter has sole responsibility for his Company. First Impressionist Exhibition in Paris.

1876 Leighton's The Daphnephoria exhibited at the R.A.

1877 Opening of the Grosvenor Gallery in London, to offer an alternative to the Royal Academy Exhibition. Whistler exhibits Nocturne in Black and Gold—The Falling Rocket, there, and Burne-Jones The Days of Creation, The Beguiling of Merlin, and the Mirror of Venus.

1878 Congress of Berlin

         Leighton elected President of the Royal Academy.

         Whistler sues Ruskin for libel over his published comments concerning Nocturne in Black and Gold—The Falling Rocket. The trial becomes a cause celebre. Whistler wins the case but is awarded the lowest possible damages—one farthing (the smallest denomination in British currency at that time). Whistler is bankrupted by the court costs, but as a result of the defeat, Ruskin loses much of his intellectual authority in the artworld.

1884 Ruskin ceases his activities in Oxford, and never returns there.

1888 Closure of the Grosvenor Gallery. The New Gallery is founded and takes on something of the Grosvenor’s character.

         Leighton completes Captive Andromache.

1890 Burne-Jones completes The Legend of the Briar Rose series of paintings. They are bought by Alexander Henderson (later Lord Faringdon) and installed at Buscot House, Oxfordshire.

1893 G. F. Watts exhibits Endymion at the Royal Academy.

1896 Death of Leighton. Millais also dies shortly after being appointed Leighton's successor as President of the Royal Academy.

         William Morris's Kelmscott Press publishes The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, with designs by Morris and illustrations by Burne-Jones. This is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful books ever printed.

1897 Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee

1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris brings Art Nouveau to triumph.

1901 Death of Queen Victoria


Crowther, Paul. Awakening Beauty: The Crowther-Oblak Collection of Victorian Art. Exhibition catalogue. Ljubljana: National Gallery of Slovenia; Galway: Moore Institute, National University of Ireland, 2014.

Created 13 January 2014