Paintings from the Reign of Victoria: The Royal Holloway Collection, London

Thursday, May 7, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thomas Holloway (1800–1883), a self-made millionaire, assembled a group of “modern” paintings during the last years of his life that formed the crowning gift to his generous endowment of a college for women, opened by Queen Victoria in 1886. The collection that Holloway amassed during a period of just two years was the first in Britain designed specifically for female viewers. His purchases—sometimes made at record-breaking prices—were cause for great excitement in the art world. The collection was widely discussed in the press and attracted large numbers of visitors from its first days.

This exhibition, drawn from the collection at Royal Holloway, University of London, showcased sixty extraordinary paintings by some of the leading artists of the Victorian period. Among the most notable works were William Powell Frith’s Dickensian social panorama The Railway Station (1862), John Everett Millais’s iconic history painting, The Princes in the Tower (1878), Edwin Longsden Long’s The Babylonian Marriage Market (1875), and Edwin Landseer’s philosophical Man Proposes, God Disposes (1864). The Royal Holloway Collection not only exemplifies the astute taste of a late Victorian collector but also highlights some of the greatest achievements in British figurative and landscape art of the nineteenth century, encompassing scenes of contemporary life, historical events, landscapes, and animal studies. Although individual paintings in the Holloway collection have appeared in major exhibitions in Europe and the United States, many of them had never been exhibited outside England.

 Paintings from the Reign of Victoria: The Royal Holloway Collection, London, was curated by Mary Cowling, Senior Lecturer in the History of Art and Curator of the Royal Holloway Collection. At the Yale Center for British Art the organizing curators were Eleanor Hughes, Assistant Curator of Exhibitions and Publications,

Abraham Solomon, First Class - The Meeting. "And at first meeting loved." (detail), 1855, oil on panel, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection

and Imogen Hart, Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Research. The exhibition was organized and circulated by Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia.


Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma:
October 12, 2008–January 4, 2009 

Delaware Museum of Art, Wilmington:
January 31–April 12, 2009

Yale Center for British Art:
May 7–July 26, 2009

Brigham Young University Museum of Art, Provo, Utah:
August 15–October 25, 2009

Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, Alabama:
November 21, 2009–February 14, 2010

Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, Florida:
March 12–April 18, 2010

Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec:
May 27–September 6, 2010

Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia:
October 6, 2010–January 2, 2011