Early 19th Century

A period which produced some of our best-loved artists Turner, Constable and William Blake. The spread of the Industrial Revolution and its influence on artists and the growing art market.

View of the early 19th century gallery

A New Market

Discover how British artists changed their approach in response to the Industrial Revolution and the changing art market. With increasing wealth, middle class merchants and manufacturers bought art, both for their homes and for important civic buildings. Boosted by national pride through export and empire, such patrons preferred contemporary British art to the European old masters favoured by  the 18th century aristocracy.

Seriousness and morality remained important themes, expressed through biblical, historical and classical subjects. Artists inevitably responded to popular demand, however, and often strayed into sentimentality and eroticism.

Expressing Passions

This display explores the emergence of Romanticism, and the work of some of our best-known artists - JMW Turner, John Constable and William Blake. These artists placed human experience above artistic convention, exploring their own personal visions during a time of revolution, war and political reform. Uncertainty and rebellion were explored through individuality and imagination. 

Although there was never an organised movement, there are distinctive hallmarks of Romantic art. These include a more direct response to nature and a stress on colour as a means of expression. As artists became increasingly guided by their intuition, they grew more independent of patrons' demands: artistic freedom and experiment entered a new age.

Key works usually on display in these galleries include:

* Turner, on loan until May 2014

If you are coming to see a particular work please contact the gallery in advance to ensure it is on display.