DETAIL : John Singer SARGENT, The fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy 1907, The Art Institute of Chicago, American Art Collection DETAIL : John Singer SARGENT, Almina, daughter of Asher Wertheimer 1908, Tate, London, presented by the widow and family of Asher Wertheimer in accordance with his wishes in 1922
Left Arrow Graphic Gallery

VIEW BY GALLERY : | Entrance | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | AUDIO TOUR | ALL

Workers and bohemians

That in this land of abounding wealth, during a time of perhaps unexampled prosperity,
probably more than one-fourth of the population are living in poverty, is a fact which may well cause
great searchings of heart.

Seebohm Rowntree Poverty, A Study of Town Life (1903)

Privileged Edwardians lived a rarefied existence, hardly acknowledging the harsher and darker side of life. High society depended upon the ‘secret’ masses who worked unobtrusively for low wages and lived in crowded conditions. They worked as domestic servants, labourers in factories or in fields, or at home as seamstresses and knitters paid by the piece. Costermongers or barrowmen earned what they could
by selling goods from a cart or barrow or a stand in the street.

Some artists and their wives rejected the restrictive middle-class codes of conduct and lived as bohemians, adopting the free-flowing dress of gypsies. This ‘artistic dress’ was also recommended by the ‘maternal feminists’ who claimed that if women wore freer clothes they would do less damage to their bodies, and thus be able to bear healthier children.

NGA Home | Introduction | Gallery | Search | Essay | Learning | Symposium | Visiting | Previous