Yale Center for British Art exhibition takes a page from PBS’ ‘Downton Abbey’

The Edwardian era — as highlighted in the award-winning PBS series “Downton Abbey” — will be the focus of a new exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art.

“Edwardian Opulence: British Art at the Dawn of the 20th Century” is described by the organizers as “the first major international exhibition in more than an generation to survey visual and decorative arts in Britain during the reign of King Edward VII (1901-1910).”

The exhibition “will include a greater diversity of media than ever before seen in a single exhibition on the subject,” note the organizers. On view will be about 170 objects, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, furniture, jewelry, costumes, and decorative arts by both British and international artists and designers, such as John Singer Sargent, Carl Fabergé, and Cartier jewelers.

The opening section on “Imperial Splendor” will include an ornate gown belonging to Lady Curzon, vicereine of India, as well as the Manchester tiara by Cartier. The “Grand Design” section will explore the applied arts in Edwardian England, and “The Great World” will show a cluster of portraits. Also featured are recently repaired and conserved silk decorations by British-born artist Charles Conder. These decorations from a collection at the Yale University Art Gallery have not been shown since 1895.

A section on “Men of Mark” will examine portraits of artists; “Town” will look at the imperial capital; and “Country” will examine the Edwardian sphere of outdoors and sport. The exhibition will continue with “History, Myth, Pageant,” which will explore the ways in which the British attachment to chivalric subject matter persisted among contributors to the annual exhibitions of the Royal Academy of Arts. “The Problem Picture” is a section devoted to the rapid evolution of ideas about social relations and especially the “new woman.” “Landscape and Memory” will highlight expanding leisure pursuits — from the novelty of domestic motor tourism as enjoyed by the privileged classes, to the rise of the middle-class Sunday outing. The exhibition will conclude on a somber note with a section titled “War, Sleep, and Death.”

Organized by the Yale Center for British Art, “Edwardian Opulence” will feature loans from private collections and public institutions around the world, including The Royal Collection, the collections of the Duke of Devonshire and Lord Rothschild, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Johannesburg Art Gallery.

The exhibition will be on display Feb. 28-June 2 at the Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel St. It is on view to the public Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, noon-5 p.m.

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