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Paintings from the Reign of Victoria: The Royal Holloway Collection, London
Carthillon Cliffs, 1878. John Brett (1831-1902). Oil on canvas, 23 x 41 inches. Royal Holloway, University of London.

WILMINGTON.- The Delaware Art Museum will present Paintings from the Reign of Victoria: The Royal Holloway Collection, London, an exhibition of superb Victorian paintings drawn from the collection at Royal Holloway, University of London. The majority of the 60 canvases – amassed in the late 1800s in a remarkably short time by self-made English millionaire Thomas Holloway – have never before been exhibited outside of England. They will be on view at the Delaware Art Museum beginning February 1 through April 12, 2009.

The exhibition includes many of the most visible and praised “modern canvases” in London in the 1880s. From scenes of contemporary life, as well as historical events, landscapes, animal studies, and marine subjects, the exhibition demonstrates Holloway’s Victorian ideal of art as the ultimate civilizing influence.

Thomas Holloway (1800-1883), a self-made English multi-millionaire, purchased a group of then “modern” paintings during the last years of his life. This collection became the crowning gift to Holloway’s generous endowment of a College for women, (now known as Royal Holloway, University of London), founded in 1879 and opened by Queen Victoria in 1886. Holloway spent more than $90 million, in today’s terms, on both the College and the collection of paintings that has helped to make it world-famous. Although his personal collection included many old masters, he decided that modern art was more appropriate for the new College.

Dr. Mary Cowling, Senior Lecturer in the History of Art at Royal Holloway, University of London, and Curator of the Royal Holloway Collection, is the Guest Curator of the exhibition.

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