Albert Joseph Moore ARWS (1841-1893)

Book illustration by Albert Moore

Albert Moore was born in York, one of five artistic brothers including the marine painter Henry Moore. He studied for a short while at the Royal Academy Schools, producing at first mainly landscapes in a Pre-Raphaelite style. He left the RA Schools to form a sketching society which included Simeon Solomon, W. B. Richmond, Marcus Stone, Fred Walker and Henry Holiday.

A visit to Rome in the early 1860s started a lifelong interest in classical sculpture, and he was much influenced by the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum. By the mid-1860s he had started to produce the pictures of harmonious classically draped girls for which he became most well-known. These girls stand or lie or sleep in surroundings without particular reference to any one period, and though labelled a Classicist, Moore was more concerned with the aesthetic qualities of colour and space. Indeed, he was a close friend of the aesthetic painter Whistler. However, Moore was unique in his delicate colour, combined with the matt finished, 2-D look which he obtained. Leighton was an admirer and supporter of Moore, and he had W. Graham Robertson as a pupil. Robert Fowler was another follower of his.

Moore lead a rather bohemian bachelor lifestyle in a house in Holland Park, London, which he shared with many cats. He did not seek honours and wealth, and while one of the major Victorian painters, he never became RA.

Pictures by Albert Moore are at many of the larger galleries. Typical standing single figures are at Manchester (Birds of the Air) and at York City Art Gallery (A Venus). Beads at the National Gallery of Scotland shows two sleeping girls, Reading Aloud at Glasgow has three reposing, looking about to sleep, in Dreamers at Birmingham there are three girls (two asleep), and A Summer Night at the Walker Art Gallery has four undressed in preparation for sleep.

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