John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, Love and the Maiden (detail), 1877. Oil, gold paint and gold leaf on canvas, 54 x 79 in. (137.2 x 200.7 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, European Art Trust Fund, Grover A. Magnin Bequest Fund and Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund, 2002.176

The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860 – 1900

The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860 – 1900 is the first major exhibition to explore the unconventional creativity of the British Aesthetic Movement, tracing the evolution of this movement from a small circle of progressive artists and poets, through the achievements of innovative painters and architects, to its broad impact on fashion and the middle-class home. The superb artworks on view encompass the manifold forms of Victorian material culture: the traditional high art of painting, fashionable trends in architecture and interior decoration, handmade and manufactured furnishings for the “artistic” home, art photography, and the new modes of dress.

The Cult of Beauty showcases the entirety of the Aesthetic Movement’s output, celebrating the startling beauty and variety of creations by masters as diverse as artists Dante Gabriel Rossetti, James McNeill Whistler, and Edward Burne-Jones and designers E.W. Godwin, William Morris, and Christopher Dresser. The Legion of Honor is the only U.S. venue on the world tour, which includes the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.


Exhibition organized by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in collaboration with the Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Grand Patron
Diane B. Wilsey

Lead Patrons
Athena and Timothy Blackburn

Lucy and William Hamilton
Maria and John Pitcairn
Arlene Schnitzer
The Frances K. and Charles D. Field Foundation

Rosemary Baker
Marie Mendenhall Cleasby
Leslie and Troy Daniels in memory of Diana V. Hind
Charles and Ann Johnson
Ross Auxiliary of the Fine Arts Museums

Hanson Bridgett logo
Fairmont logo

Currently on view