Alfred Gilbert's Aestheticism presents the first sustained re-evaluation of the life and work of one of the most acclaimed sculptors of the late-Victorian period. Drawing on important new archival sources, this ground-breaking study challenges the customary assumption that Aestheticism was primarily a literary, painterly or architectural phenomena. Jason Edwards reveals both the diverse ways in which Gilbert's sculptures operated within the context of Aestheticism and also how these works provided a unique and provocative commentary on the history of masculine friendship and eroticism in the period leading up to and beyond the Wilde trials in 1895. Detailed readings are offered of the relationship of Gilbert's work to essays by Pater and Swinburne, poems, plays, and novels by Wilde and W. S. Gilbert, and paintings by Burne-Jones, Leighton, Rossetti, Solomon, Whistler, and Watts. With over 90 illustrations, including key contemporary photographs showing Gilbert's works in their original contexts, this book makes a major contribution to the field of Victorian sculpture studies.
’… [Edwards's] erudition is impressive…Edwards's book is certainly readable, while his patent admiration for a remarkable artist is affecting and infectious. Alfred Gilbert's Aestheticism provocatively complements the excellent if more orthodox biographical achievements of Richard Dorment.’ The Burlington Magazine
Contents: Introduction: Alfred Gilbert's Aestheticism; A portrait of the artist as a young aesthete: Perseus Arming (1882) and 'Grosvenor' Aestheticism; Icarus (1884): 'academic' Aestheticism at Leighton and Burlington House; Allegorizing love in fin-de-siècle London: Eros (1886-93) and Piccadilly Aestheticism; The truth of masks: Comedy and Tragedy: 'Sic Vita' (1892); From Cleveland Street to Bruges: the Clarence Memorial Tomb (1892-99); Conclusion: G. F. Watts and the end of Gilbert's Aestheticism, 1899-1903; Bibliography; Index.