Frank Beck

Writer and photographer, New York

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Calm before the storm?

Edwardian Opulence: British Art at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century. A. Trumble and A.W. Rager, eds. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013).

Reviewed in The Elgar Society Journal, Vol. 18, No. 2, pp. 41-3.

From high atop the Royal Exchange, the painter shows us London in 1904. Converging streets brim with energy, while the stately columns of Mansion House establish London as the new Rome. As our eyes are drawn through the coal smoke to a distant horizon, a capital of impressive dimensions stretches before us. And crowning it all is the dome of St. Paul’s, which links London to the skies, as if to say: here is a mighty new empire, doing the work of Heaven itself.

Neils Moeller Lund’s painting, Heart of Empire, which serves as this book’s frontispiece, seems to be a straightforward affirmation of imperial wealth and power. However, this survey of the visual arts in Edwardian Britain demonstrates that the era’s imagery is often more complicated and conflicted than it appears.

For the complete review, please see p. 41 of the Source at right.