The V&A’s Cult of Beauty exhibition opened over the weeked. You can read my feature on the Aesthetic movement in the Independent on Sunday.
The highlight of the exhibition comes right at the end. Alfred Gilbert’s statue of Eros, or to be more precise Anteros, or to be even more precise, The Angel of Christian Charity, is easily overlooked in its usual home of Piccadilly Circus, located as it is in the second worst place in all of London. But lowered to eye level and removed of surrounding neon, tourists and traffic, it turns out to be a figure of real beauty, simultaneously delicate and robust, and gleaming in its shiny aluminium (this is a recent cast).
The rest of the exhibition is similarly eye-catching, as you wander round the gallery following what seems to be an endless procession of portraits of dark-haired, brown-eyed women painted between 1860 and 1900 by the Aesthetes. William Brown, the fictitious schoolboy and one of my chief inspirations, always admitted a soft spot for a certain kind of women: dark-haired, brown-eyed and dimpled. He was clearly inspired by the Aesthetes.