By Diana Maltz (auth.)
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Extra resources for British Aestheticism and the Urban Working Classes, 1870–1900: Beauty for the People
Like the song of the lark, her efforts will mitigate the horrors of urban life. Her last line above is particularly revealing: as an artist, a recorder of ‘good and suffering,’ she is interested not so much in the children as in their faces, where she eagerly searches for their longing for beauty, their acquiescence with her own expectations. One would expect after her dream vision that Hill would justify her drawing lessons as preparation for a life of decorative philanthropy, yet in the 1860s, missionary aestheticism had not yet been constructed as an institution.
If I did not care for them, would not all that is not selﬁsh in my artistic plans be lost? If I had no desire to set down my faith in righteous strength, St Michael’s ﬁgure on my walls would have lost its glory. 23 Hill’s initial image of the attic as an atelier of rest and escape emerges later in the paragraph as a room for her children, who would proﬁt ethically and aesthetically from its inscriptions and colors. Commemorating ‘incidents in common life that showed some good’ (127), she will adorn public spaces with didactic tableaux of everyday virtue: if her room is theirs, her home, college, and church are as well.
The Salvation Army was almost universally detested among the middle classes for its vulgarity, its appropriation of tunes that were popular among workers, and the accompaniment of these tunes by the harmonium – in all, its loud claim to public attention on the streets. Wilde, here its general, is associated with noise and vulgarity as well as with a proximity to low forms of culture. Yet at the same time, paradoxically, as an apostle of aestheticism who has famously toured America lecturing on the Italian Renaissance and revival of English crafts, he is rescuing workers from low forms of culture.
British Aestheticism and the Urban Working Classes, 1870–1900: Beauty for the People by Diana Maltz (auth.)