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Lucy Hartley, Democratising Beauty in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Art and the Politics of Public Life

Democratising Beauty in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Art and the Politics of Public Life

Lucy Hartley

Could the self-interested pursuit of beauty actually help to establish the moral and political norms that enable democratic society to flourish? In this book, Lucy Hartley identifies a new language for speaking about beauty, which begins to be articulated from the 1830s in a climate of political reform and becomes linked to emerging ideals of equality, liberty, and individuality. Examining British art and art writing by Charles Lock Eastlake, John Ruskin, Walter Pater, Edward Poynter, William Morris, and John Addington Symonds, Hartley traces a debate about what it means to be interested in beauty and whether this preoccupation is necessary to public political life. Drawing together political history, art history, and theories of society, and supplemented by numerous illustrations, Democratising Beauty in Nineteenth-Century Britain offers a fresh interdisciplinary understanding of the relation of art to its publics.

Lucy Hartley is Professor of English at the University of Michigan, and the author of Physiognomy and the Meaning of Expression in Nineteenth-Century Culture and editor of The History of British Women’s Writing, 1830-1880 (forthcoming).

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