It’s a movement which developed in France in the middle of 19th century. It was a reaction against materialism and false moralism of the middle class. It starts with the works of Gautier. He maintained the saying “ART FOR ART’S SAKE”. France aesthete was called “ bohemian” and adopted Gautier’s saying. The bohemian was an artist who withdrew with social and political life and sided with poor people and refused his social class. The aesthete had to experience every kind of sensation, emotion. So he often drugs. He feels new sensation and emotion.
In England the movement spread around the 70s (1870) and most important representative of English aestheticism was Oscar Wilde. English aestheticism too developed as a reaction against utilitarism and materialism of middle class but also against the values of Victorian’s society.
The English aesthete was called “dandy”. Wilde was the most important dandy .
Dandy was an artist who belong to the upper middle class but he didn’t withdrew, he remained in his social class but lived wonderful life, a house full of comforts, good food and beautiful dress.
English aestheticism adopted Gautier’s saying.
They had two important features:
1- The cult of beauty
2- The religion of art.
They maintained the saying since art has no other end than itself so art has no moral, no didactic, no social and no political aim. For the sake there are the two point.
is considered the father of English aestheticism. He was a professor of university of Oxford and he maintained that since life was fleeting and elusive the only way to stop time is the art.
The only valid criterion of judgement is to experience every kind of emotion and to feel every kind of sensation. Obviously Oscar Wilde live your life according to Pater’s teaching. When Pater said that an artist should live his life as a work of art.
Forerunners of English aestheticism was:
1- Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
2- Keats (his important theme was beauty)
OSCAR WILDE (1856-1900)
He was born in Dublin and in upper middle class. He attended lecture of Pater. He has stravagant and immorality life. He decorated his room with peacock feathers, sun-flowers and lillis; he dress in a very fashionable way. He used a “witty” language. Then he gratued and he went in London where he lived a stravagant life and no-conformist life.
He walked along Piccadilly Streets with a lilly in his hand. The English society loved him because he’s pretty. He was accepted by upper middle class also if he criticized his values but they accepted him because he belong to upper middle class. He got married and his wife ‘Constantine Lloyd’ and they had two children and write some fair tales (HAPPY PRINCEPS AND OTHER TALES) for his children not for published.
He was homosexual , he had a relationship with Lord Alfred Douglas who was called with the nickname of ‘Bosie’. Bosie’s father know the relation , was really apset and denounced Wilde. He was trialled and sentenced to two years of hard labour.
When he came out he was psychological destroy. He couldn’t stay in London anymore and go away in France where he died. The only person who help him was his wife.