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The Transformative Power of the Arts in Victorian and Edwardian Culture and Society
1. The Interactions Between Science, Technology and the Arts

Better Than the Real Thing: Processed Reality in Victorian Art and Fiction

Plus vrai(e) que nature : la réalité à l’épreuve du Réalisme
Béatrice Laurent


Cet article étudie la nature paradoxale et composite de la photographie et de la fiction réalistes. Dans les années 1850, certains peintres, parmi lesquels William Holman Hunt ou William Powell Frith, utilisaient couramment des stratégies d’agrégation d’éléments pour leurs compositions. La recomposition artistique de la réalité fut reprise par les premiers photographes tels que Henry Peach Robinson. Diverses formes d’agrégation, dont la juxtaposition et la superposition, furent utilisées pour créer des images qui paraissaient réelles. Ainsi, une réalité filtrée et fictive est venue remplacer l’expérience oculaire dans l’interaction entre le sujet individuel et le monde extérieur, si bien que les romanciers intégrèrent cette procédure à leur œuvre. L’article passe des arts visuels à la fiction et vice-versa pour montrer que les mêmes stratégies artistiques étaient à l’œuvre dans les deux domaines, et comment la fiction a influencé les arts visuels et, à l’inverse, comment les arts visuels ont été une source d’inspiration pour les romanciers victoriens. L’argument inclut également des considérations sur l’impact des instruments scientifiques, en particulier les instruments optiques. Le résultat est que l’on peut voir combien le réalisme était complexe et artificiel dans son effort pour produire un effet ‘plus vrai que nature’.

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1In the 1850s, artists as different in style and in inspiration as the Pre-Raphaelite William Holman Hunt, the Royal Academician William Powell Frith, and the photographer Henry Peach Robinson were using strategies of aggregation as part of their regular compositional practice. Little was it suspected by the general public back then, that familiar images which graced the walls of their interiors or marked the pages of their books were in fact pictorial colligations. The trust in optical evidence suggested that popular paintings such as The Light of the World (1851), The Derby Day (1858) or the photograph Fading Away (1858) resulted from the faithful capture of the likeness of an individual, or of a group such as they existed in real life or modelled to the artist. Yet the public misplaced their trust because, in the intimacy of their studios, artists misled them when they practised their secret crafts: they iconographically chopped and assembled body parts from various models, they constructed artificial scenes and landscapes, they superimposed and combined images in seamless ways, and produced works that looked perfectly real. The ‘realistic effect’ was produced by the art of processing reality, of condensing it as it were by removing unnecessary elements, and by combining significant elements in a meaningful way. In this way, the beholder could make sense of the picture, could even possibly experience a déjà vu feeling. The figurative work of visual art addressed the public’s intellect more than it did their eyes: its realism lay in the sensation that made them exclaim ‘yes, that’s exactly how it was!’ rather than ‘yes, that’s what I can see when I look around!’ because it corresponded to a mental image rather than to a fragment of the outside world. Painters’ and photographers’ practices were echoed by other media, and the so-called realist novel imitated not the unmediated outside world but other real-looking artistic creations.

2The Victorian public equated verisimilitude and reality because they had been trained to process what looked or sounded real as real. There was a readiness to trust in the ocular evidence that cultivated naivety in the uninformed public, and empowered the masters of make-believe. Yet, what these reality-makers knew, and their audience ignored, was the secret of typological realism, that is reality, not as our eyes find it in nature, but as we conceive of it with our mind’s eye. The point made by George Landow (1979, 34) that the ‘real’ is not the raw material world outside our minds, but the result of cross-fertilisation between the natural and the symbolical explains why from the 1850s and for about a hundred years, things and events appeared all the truer when they corresponded with preconceived ideas of what we admit they should be like. In other words, we culturally produce potential truthfulnesses within our collective horizons of expectations. In that respect, visualities play a crucial role in delineating the aspect of reality, and in making the spectator identify as ‘real’ an object that looks like a picture which pre-exists in one’s mind.

3The transformative power of the visual arts in the mid-nineteenth century, I will argue, lay in their capacity to hide their composite nature and to pass as homogeneous highly colligated pictures, which shaped a new vision of ‘reality’.

Assembled Body Parts

  • 1 ‘I had modelled a head, taxing many friends in turn from whose features anything could be gained. A (...)
  • 2 ‘Miss Siddal came . . . to let me study the effect of the light and shade on her beautiful copper-c (...)
  • 3 ‘[In F. M. Brown’s Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet] the hair and the face in part were painted from Miss (...)

4When William Holman Hunt painted his vision of Jesus Christ in The Light of the World, he did not use one, but several models. Not only did he complement his sketches made with a lay figure, in the traditional model-saving fashion, with details painted from a live model: he used several human models, male and, more surprisingly, female as well. Thus, the face was that of Christina Rossetti,1 and the hair was Elizabeth Siddal’s.2 A few years later, Ford Madox Brown followed Hunt’s example when he asked Siddal to model the hair of Christ in Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet (1856–58).3 This pictorial assembling of diverse body parts meant to represent not the physical reality of a living person, but rather the true-to-life image of an abstraction. The strategy of using selected fragments of nature, and of putting them together in order to guide the beholder’s reading of the painting had been hailed as the hallmark of great art by John Ruskin who delivered master classes in pictorial hermeneutics. About The Light of the World, his iconographic tour-de-force, Hunt explained that every natural element had to be understood typically. ‘In the world of religious vision which Hunt created in The Light of the World’, writes George Landow, ‘all things necessarily bear higher meanings, so that the symbolical and the natural combine: both together make up the real’ (Landow 1979, 34). Landow’s perceptive redefinition of what ‘the real’ consisted of in the mind of Hunt, Ruskin and other Victorian practitioners of typological realism is important because it contrasts with the more straightforward conception that ‘reality, the Real, inhered in the visible, the here and now’ (Landow 1979, 26).

5Henry Peach Robinson, who defended the status of photography as higher than that of technology, believed that using painterly tricks to create his photographic images would elevate photography to the rank of fine art. An admirer of Ruskin and Hunt, Robinson therefore borrowed from artists techniques that permitted the composition of a new reality which, paradoxically, seemed truer when it was most untrue. Robinson’s ghost-like Ophelia (1898) results from the assembling of the head of one model with the figure of another. To Robinson ‘It is sometimes necessary to print a single figure from two negatives: Ophelia is an example of this kind’ (Robinson 1860, 94). In such cases as the composite Ophelia, writes Daniel Novak, ‘the photographic body and its private identity were torn apart: made abstract, anonymous, exchangeable, and endlessly divisible’ (Novak 3). The sitter did not model as an individual but as a set of spare parts to be cut and pasted in order to contribute to the creation of new fictional Frankensteinian beings. Defenders of artistic photography such as Robinson were doing with their negatives and chemicals what painters did with their paints and brushes: they confessedly manipulated reality either to load it with extra meaning—in the case of the Pre-Raphaelites—or to beautify it. Thus, Robinson admitted that his compositional strategy was ‘to take the best and most beautiful parts you can obtain suitable for your picture, and join them together into one perfect whole’ (Robinson 1860, 94). The result, described by Daniel Novak as an ‘impossible literary and pictorial body-in-pieces, [a] fictional and grotesque composite’ is, according to this author ‘central both to a Victorian technology of realism and to the Victorian realist novel’ (Novak 1). The composite being in fiction becomes in fact so central that its inclusion is an evidence of its truth to nature. Thus, when the down-to-earth and somewhat vulgar Arabella undresses before Jude on their wedding night in Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, she makes no secret of her hair postiche, revealing her composite beauty. Naïve and romantic Jude had trusted his eyes, and never suspected the artifice which his young wife is so open about:

A little chill overspread him at her first unrobing. A long tail of hair, which Arabella wore twisted up in an enormous knob at the back of her head, was deliberately unfastened, stroked out, and hung upon the looking glass which he had bought her.
‘What—it wasn’t your own?’ he said, with a sudden distaste for her.
‘Oh no—it never is nowadays with the better class’.
‘Nonsense! Perhaps not in towns. But in the country it is supposed to be different’. (52)

6By making a composite of herself, Arabella shows her awareness of modern artifices, and poses as a characteristically realist character, in sharp contrast to her ignorant husband who, like the Biblical Thomas, trusts what his eyes can see.

7In a mise en abyme, Hardy’s Arabella operates on herself modifications similar to the ones painters and photographers were performing on their figures. These, Novak writes, in the case of photography ‘produced new and fictional bodies . . . that existed only in a photographic space, in photographic fictions. In other words, the technology of realism produced what appears to be its opposite: the non-existent, the fictional, and the abstract’ (Novak 3). To uninformed eyes, the craft of realism constructed an improved reality that observers believed was true and sought to emulate. Once the observer’s eyes have been opened on the distortion applied to reality, the fakeness of the object or the picture becomes haunting and the overall impression left by the image is one of untruth and abstraction. Strategies of improvement of a picture could affect a single figure, as we have seen, but could also concern a whole group of characters as well as its surroundings.


8In 1856–58, a single painting was so popular that a police officer had to be stationed before it to protect it. The canvas that crowds rushed to see was William Powell Frith’s Derby Day. This condensed social panorama reads as an allegory of human types and a parody of interactions between social categories. Yet, because Frith had commissioned a photographer to the Epsom race, and used the daguerreotypes to compose his picture, the painting looked real. The amount of details in the costumes, the poses, the accessories of the myriad characters in the painting testify to Frith’s commitment to the aesthetics of realism. However, as a recent commentator noted,

The Victorian art fanciers who stood in front of The Derby Day saw, in the end, what they thought they ought to see. As a piece of art, the painting is a gigantic paradox: full of individual life and vigour, oddly static when seen in the round. But Ruskin, who reckoned it ‘a kind of cross between John Leech and Wilkie, with a dash of daguerreotype here and there, and some pretty seasoning with Dickens’ sentiment’, was absolutely right. No Victorian artist quite so successfully incorporated the tricks of narrative into his paintings, or knew what his audience wanted from both art and the life they saw reflected in it. (Taylor)

9In this perceptive comment, the novelist D. J. Taylor pinpoints the tricky mirror effect between art and life. The technique of realism lures the beholders into believing that what they see on the canvas is an authentic image of the outside world. This, in turn, makes them recognize as real situations and objects in life, which correspond to realistic images stored in their memories, and to operate adjustments in life, so that these situations and objects come closer to the deceptive artistic reflection they have accepted as a canon of reality. A contemporary of Frith who knew as well as he did ‘what his audience wanted from both art and the life they saw reflected in it’ was the photographer Henry Peach Robinson.

10The same year that saw crowds thronging to catch a closer look at Frith’s painting, Robinson was completing his famous composite photograph Fading Away. In order to produce this intimate narrative of family tragedy, Robinson seamlessly combined five separate negatives. The scene centres on a bedridden young woman dying of tuberculosis—or possibly of a broken heart, as suggested by the Shakespearean title of a preliminary study, She Never Told Her Love. ‘Robinson’s seamless blending of reality and artifice’ appealed to Prince Albert, ‘who purchased a print of Fading Away and issued a standing order for every major composite photograph Robinson would make’ (Fineman 25). It is clear that many who admired Fading Away had no idea that it was a combination print and when, in 1860, Robinson outlined his methods at a meeting of the Photographic Society of Scotland, he was greeted with howls of protest from people who felt that they had been deceived. There was much discussion about what one correspondent referred to as ‘Patchwork’, rather than composition, and Robinson felt he had to clarify his position. This he did in Pictorial Effect in Photography (1869), a major work, in which he sought to disentangle the common confusion between the near synonyms ‘fact’ and ‘truth’ and the relation of these terms to the concept of reality:

I am far from saying that a photograph must be an actual, literal, and absolute fact ; that would be to deny all I have written ; but it must represent truth. Truth and fact are not only two words, but, in art at least, they represent two things. A fact is anything done, or that exists—a reality. Truth is conformity to fact or reality—absence and falsehood. So that truth in art may exist without an absolute observance of facts. (Robinson 1869, 78)

11Thus, paradoxically, truth to the artist’s idea of art meant falsehood to facts, according to Robinson. As an artist, Robinson’s aim was similar to William Holman Hunt’s, it seems: to elevate materialism and reach typological realism. To achieve this aim, he used photographic ‘tricks’. He felt justified in doing that, within the limits of what he called ‘fitness’—a notion which set the decency as it were of the photographic medium:

It is no fault in a photographer that his art will not carry him as far as paints and brushes do the painter. His production would only be defective when he failed to do what was possible in his art . . . . The photographer must not let his invention tempt him to represent, by any trick, any scene that does not occur in nature; if he does, he does violence to his art, because it is known that his finished result represents some object or thing that has existed for a space of time before his camera. But any ‘dodge, trick, or conjuration’ of any kind is open to the photographer’s use, so that it belongs to his art, and is not false to nature. If the dodges, tricks, &c., lead the photographer astray, so much the worse for him; if they do not assist him to represent nature, he is not fit to use them. It is not the fault of the dodges, it is the fault of the bungler. (Robinson 1869, 78–79)

12Photographic artifices cleverly used to construct a ‘fit’ version of reality were therefore perfectly legitimate, according to Robinson, and these included photomontage, or combination printing as it was termed in the nineteenth century.

13Mid-Victorian artistic practices impacted by technical innovations—such as the microscope—yielded new ways of looking at the outside world that we commonly call ‘reality’, with a focus on the verisimilitude of the detail. ‘Photographic fiction and photographic realism (historically) emerge at the same moment’ aptly notes Daniel Novak (9). This, I suggest, is also true of other art forms, and shows that realism in the Victorian era was not only an aesthetic program or a style, but a culturally contingent way of constructing fiction. The veracity of specific parts could be blended in a fictional whole that remained plausible, and the combination of the two would make up what we still refer to as a realistic piece of art or literature.

14When the early-twenty-first century public looks at H. P. Robinson’s A Holiday in the Woods (1886), they most likely see exactly what their Victorian predecessors saw: a nice pleinair photograph of a charming group enjoying a summer day in the British countryside. This pleasant bucolic scene however never occurred in reality. The picture was elaborated in the artist’s studio. It consists of a visual narration made of multiple incidents mimicking events that probably existed in nature in different times and places but which the photographer brought back to life and collated in a visual fiction. A Holiday in the Woods is a perfect example of the successful use of combination printing, defined by Robinson as:

A method which enables the photographer to represent objects in different planes in proper focus, to keep the true atmospheric and linear relation of varying distances, and by which a picture can be divided into separate portions for execution, the parts to be afterwards printed together on one paper, thus enabling the operator to devote all his attention to a single figure or sub-group at a time, so that if any part be imperfect from any cause, it can be substituted by another without the loss of the whole picture, as would be the case if taken at one operation. By thus devoting the attention to individual parts, independently of the others, much greater perfection can be obtained in details, such as the arrangement of draperies, refinement of pose, and expression. (Robinson 1869, 192)

15This procedure exactly follows the one used by the painters of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood who, because they painted on a wet white ground, needed to work on small portions of the canvas at a time. Both in painting and in photography, the result is a sharper focus on details, but this comes at the cost of a lack of depth, which contributes to what may strike a contemporary beholder as the unnatural aspect of the whole composition. This did not seem to bother the Victorians though, at a time when the virtue of close inspection was highly praised.

16Henry Peach Robinson’s admiration of the Pre-Raphaelites is noticeable in his practice and intentions, as well as in his constitution in 1892 of an artistic circle, the Brotherhood of the Linked Ring. This association, whose name evokes the Arthurian inspiration of the early Pre-Raphaelites, proposed to propel photography among the fine arts, and to restrict its access and secrets to an elite. Alfred Horsley Hinton (1863–1908), a member of the Ring who had trained as a painter in his youth, enthused about the magical power of the photographer who ‘has practically created a new thing out of materials gathered from nature; upon a foundation of fact he has allowed his imagination to build up an entirely fictitious scene’ (78). Thus, Robinson, Horsley Hinton and other Pictorialists do in photography what painters and novelists commonly did: they represented in a realistic way events that never occurred in real life. And, going further, they argued (as Novak notes about Robinson) that ‘such photographic fictions are both more real and more photographic’ (Novak 4). Thus, filtered and fictionalised reality came to replace the ocular experience in the interaction between the individual subject and the outside world. This process affected literature as well as the visual arts.

17Indeed, novelists such as Thomas Hardy were considered beacons of Realism when they condensed and aggregated their material most. In a conversation with the critic Ralph David Blumenfeld, Hardy confided that he too, strove to achieve the seamless blend of reality and artifice. He solved the dilemma of fact and fiction in the same way as Pictorialist photographers did: ‘There is only one way of escape,’ he said. ‘Write a novel so closely associated with every detail of life and truth that not even the finest microscope in a critic’s eye can discover a departure from fact. Put as much romance in it as you like, but never shut the gate on Fact’ (Blumenfeld 120). Because Hardy’s naturalist gaze had been trained to look very closely and precisely at things, he marvelled at the wonders of his real, yet fictional, microcosms:

It was a moment of extreme joy for him, . . . this discovery that every detail of his native scene ‘spoke’ to him, evoked inexhaustible knowledge in himself and told of a measureless, anonymous past, a past in which all particular tragedies were reduced in scale, as if seen through the wrong end of a telescope. (Furbank 14)

18As Furbank sensitively explained, in Hardy’s mind, interactions between past and present, the collective and the individual, the anonymous and the specific are perceived in terms of ocular experience which refer to specific optical tools (the microscope, the telescope). The collective, anonymous past is a loosely painted, boundless distant background that can be viewed through a telescope. When used the wrong way round, the telescope provides highly detailed but tiny vignettes that seem to contain, as it were, condensed reality. These microcosms equal the experience of looking at a painting by William Powell Frith through a magnifying glass, for according to Mary Cowling, ‘it is clear that artists like Frith intended that every part of these pictures should be read, including the human face, its features and its expressions’ (Cowling 2). However, when he considers the specific, the individual present, Thomas Hardy resorts to another visual strategy. He construes a gallery, where memories and images are collected, combined, and/or superimposed to give reality its present aspect. Thomas Hardy who possessed a vast visual culture, also had a sharp analytical eye on his own work. In an interview with William Archer, he explained how his amalgamation of fragments of real life made him come closer to a typical, universal truth:

In several of my stories there is a very large element of fact, or tradition... On a single series of facts, that is to say. [O]ne situation will often be an amalgam of many real incidents. In that way, it seems to me, one may hope to get at what is fundamental in them—to present the typical incident. Just as, in character-drawing, several similar individuals will blend into one type. (Archer 529)

19In verbalizing his compositional method, Thomas Hardy used in fact two different metaphors, both drawn from photographic or artistic practices. The ‘amalgam’ is very close to the composite photograph devised by Henry Peach Robinson and his Linked Ring ‘Brothers’. It also refers to the process Hardy described in his 1888 short story ‘The Withered Arm’ when his character Rhoda Brook envisions a picture of her lover’s new wife: ‘from her boy’s description and the casual words of the other milkers, Rhoda Brook could raise a mental image of the unconscious Mrs. Lodge that was as realistic as a photograph’ (32). Rhoda Brook’s mental photograph is clearly a Robinson’s-Ophelia-style (or a Light-of-the-World-style) assemblage made by adjoining parts from several models. However, when he refers to ‘character-drawing’ where ‘several similar individuals . . . blend into one type’ Hardy points to the family portraits devised by Francis Galton. The interviewer understood that, and immediately suggested to Hardy, ‘A sort of composite photograph, in fact?’ (Archer 529).

Composite Portraits

20A composite portrait, such as the scientist, photographer, and eugenicist Francis Galton envisaged it ‘represents the picture that would rise before the mind’s eye of a man who had the gift of pictorial imagination in an exalted degree’ (Galton 134). Here, Galton uses the same words as Hardy did to describe Rhoda Brook’s mental photograph. However, while Rhoda conjures up an assemblage made by adjoining parts, Galton’s photographic portraits used a different, ‘superpositional’ rather than associational (or vertical rather than horizontal), strategy. It consists in superimposing the photographed faces of several models in order to achieve a generic picture that will look a little like every component, but would be different from each, in a sort of pre-Photoshop ‘morphing’ process. The advantage of composite portraits, according to Galton, was that they ‘are better looking than their components, because the averaged portrait of many persons is free from the irregularities that variously blemish the looks of each of them’ (Galton 35). An ideal or typical portrait would thus be produced, which could be of interest in many respects. Indeed, Galton boasted that it was a way to trace the physical signs of specific pathologies, such as consumption, as well as deficiencies, such as criminal behaviour. It also highlighted hereditary features in members of a family, and this last usage was considerably important for genealogy enthusiasts such as Hardy.

21Indeed, ‘Heredity’, a 1916 poem by Thomas Hardy reads almost as a description of one of Francis Galton’s composite portraits:

I am the family face;
Flesh perishes, I live on,
Projecting trait and trace
Through time to times anon,
And leaping from place to place
Over oblivion.

The years-heired feature that can
In curve and voice and eye
Despise the human span
Of durance—that is I;
The eternal thing in man,
That heeds no call to die.

  • 4 See for example the excellent literary analysis of ‘Heredity’ by Isabelle Gadoin in ‘“Leaping over (...)

22The ‘character-drawing’ process mentioned by Hardy and understood by Archer as referring to Galton’s family portraits, seems to have been employed, ‘projecting trait and trace/through time to times anon’ to achieve the poetic ‘family face’. Galton’s multiple superimpositions conjure up the ‘years-heired feature’, the physical form ‘located in no single body but spanned across multiplicity’ which James Emmott compares to a ‘ghostly afterimage’ (Emmott 475). This technological paradigm adds the scientific impact of Galton’s composite portraits in the composition of Hardy’s poetic imagination, which so far seems to have been studied mostly from literary or philosophical perspectives.4 When we read the poem ‘Heredity’ with Francis Galton’s ‘Composite photograph of the portraits of six members of the same family’ (1882) before our eyes, however, the technological aspect of layered portrait-making becomes a striking common point between the two pieces. Both are realistic, in the definitions of Robinson and Hardy, because both imitate with the powers of their respective media the working of one’s imagination when scrutinizing someone’s face or portrait while seeking a family likeness.


23In the same way as the realist novel did not blindly record events based on a true story, realist photography did not result from a direct, unretouched capture of the outside world. In both art forms, the fictional microcosm pre-existed in the artist’s imagination as the result of assembled fragments of the world, peopled with composite characters. Nancy Armstrong and Jennifer Green-Lewis made this point in their respective books and both authors argue that nineteenth-century photography shaped literary realism as it increased its emphasis on the visible and the knowable: ‘Victorian literature echoes photography’s call to look and its promise of new vision in questioning perception, self-knowledge, and realism itself’ (Green-Lewis 35). It seems to me, however, that both art forms evolved hand in hand, and certainly had a reciprocal influence on each other. Chronologically, the first art form that endeavoured to grasp reality as it was perceived in the mid-nineteenth century, with an emphasis on the visible and the knowable, was painting. Photography was in its very early days then, and the heyday of pictorialist photographers came in the last decades of the century, at the time when Thomas Hardy was publishing his Dorchester novels. But then, one emerging fashion or technology never immediately supersedes the pre-existing one(s): periods of coexistence of several ways of doing things occur in every field of human activity. Literary and artistic movements are no exception and, as Jennifer Green-Lewis noted in Framing the Victorians: Photography and the Culture of Realism, in the second half of the nineteenth century, Romanticism which had started in the eighteenth century persisted while Realism progressively became the main idiom. Both movements denote different ways of looking at the world, resulting from different points of view adopted by the artists. Art then acts as what Green-Lewis aptly terms a ‘structuring principle, or standard of truth’:

Photographers in such works are not sober agents of realism but artists of the fantastic, figures of wild and questionable science. Realism, on the other hand, tends not to figure the camera or photographers much at all but rather to use the idea of photography as a structuring principle or standard of truth to which the language itself aspires. (Green-Lewis 35)

24Reality in the work of nineteenth-century realist painters, novelists or, indeed, photographers, did not pertain to their present any more than it did to the factual. It was defined by the consensual way of looking at things in a specific cultural context, and shaped by technological advances and everyday experiences. Audiences therefore recognized as ‘real’ something that fitted in a preconceived mental picture of the world, and ‘unreal’ something that did not. Congruence of the photograph, painting, poem, or story with a biased, and ‘improved’ internalized collective fiction was, paradoxically, the ultimate test of realism in nineteenth-century art and literature. The conjoined efforts of artists to produce this congruence, and of the public to accept it, endowed successive realisms with an extraordinary long-lasting transformative power, modifying not the outside world, but the way we look at it.

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Archer, William. ‘Real Conversations II.: With Mr Thomas Hardy’. Pall Mall Gazette 23 (April 1901): 527–37.

Armstrong, Nancy. Fiction in the Age of Photography: The Legacy of British Realism. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1999.

Blumenfeld, Ralph D. ‘The Father of Tess’. R.D.B.’s Procession. London: Nicholson & Watson, 1935. 211–14. Reprinted as ‘Never Shut the Gate on Fact’. Thomas Hardy Remembered. Ed. Martin Ray. London: Routledge, 2007. 119–20.

Cowling, Mary. The Artist as Anthropologist: The Representation of Type and Character in Victorian Art. Cambridge: CUP, 1989.

Emmott, James. ‘Parameters of Vibration, Technologies of Capture, and the Layering of Voices and Faces in the Nineteenth Century’. Victorian Studies 53.3 (2011): 468–78. Project MUSE,

Fineman, Mia. Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012.

Furbank, P. N. ‘Introduction’. Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles. 1891. London: Macmillan, 1975. 11–23.

Gadoin, Isabelle. ‘“Leaping over oblivion”: Thomas Hardy’s “Moments of Vision”’. L’Atelier 4.2 (nov. 2012): 1–22.

Galton, Francis. ‘Composite Portraits, made by combining those of many different persons into a single resultant figure’. Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 8 (1879): 132–44.

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1 ‘I had modelled a head, taxing many friends in turn from whose features anything could be gained. Appreciating the gravity and sweetness of expression possessed by Miss Christina Rossetti, I felt she might make a valuable sitter for the painting of the head . . . . She kindly agreed, and Mrs Rossetti brought her’ (Hunt 1: 347).

2 ‘Miss Siddal came . . . to let me study the effect of the light and shade on her beautiful copper-coloured locks’ (Hunt 1: 307).

3 ‘[In F. M. Brown’s Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet] the hair and the face in part were painted from Miss Siddal, with the guidance also of a sitting from F. G. Stephens’ (Hunt 1: 319).

4 See for example the excellent literary analysis of ‘Heredity’ by Isabelle Gadoin in ‘“Leaping over oblivion”: Thomas Hardy’s “Moments of Vision”’. L'Atelier 4.2 (nov. 2012): 1–22.

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Béatrice Laurent, « Better Than the Real Thing: Processed Reality in Victorian Art and Fiction », Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens [En ligne], 89 Spring | 2019, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2019, consulté le 19 novembre 2019. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/cve.5102

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Béatrice Laurent

Béatrice Laurent is Professor of Victorian Studies at the Université Bordeaux-Montaigne (CLIMAS – EA 4196). A Pre-Raphaelite scholar, Béatrice has edited a volume of essays on William Morris’s News from Nowhere (2004). The author of La Peinture anglaise (2006), Béatrice studies art through its interactions with theoretical discourses in Provence and the British Imagination (co-edited, 2013), and in Sleeping Beauties in Victorian Britain: Cultural; Literary and Artistic Explorations of a Myth (edited, 2015). Her broader field of research covers the zones of conceptual overlapping between art, literature, science and society, particularly in Victorian Britain.
Béatrice Laurent est Professeur en civilisation britannique et études victoriennes à l’Université Bordeaux-Montaigne (CLIMAS – EA 4196). Après une thèse sur les peintres préraphaélites, elle a coordonné un ouvrage collectif sur William Morris (News from Nowhere, 2004). Également auteur de La Peinture anglaise (2006), Béatrice Laurent étudie l’art à travers le prisme des discours théoriques connexes qui l’informent dans Provence and the British Imagination (co-direction, 2013), et dans Sleeping Beauties in Victorian Britain: Cultural; Literary and Artistic Explorations of a Myth (direction, 2015). Ses recherches s’intéressent aux passerelles entre art, littérature, sciences et société pour mettre au jour les similitudes conceptuelles et leurs représentations, notamment durant la période Victorienne.

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Licence Creative Commons
Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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