since about Victorian times (roughly 1837 on)+ photographs
Thanks for the attachments.. they help a bit. I understand that the rise of aestheticism was explained as an emotional and intellectual reaction to the constrictions of life in Victorian Britain. The aesthetes wanted, above all, to escape: to escape to Beauty; to escape to the enchanted churches of Art, from the godless uncertainty of the age of Darwin and the earnestness of High Victorian morality. But it is so difficult (at least for me) to "read", in a painting or in a piece of architecture.
It seems to me at least that all through history art seems to have veered between a visual beauty' and insight into the forms behind that outward representation. Platos forms perhaps. I agree with you the late Victorians cultivated many cults and beliefs as a reaction to their loss of certainties and distrust of the alternatives. I thin the aesthetes were one reaction to this.
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