Telling Tales: The Story of Narrative Art – Southampton City Art Gallery

Telling Tales: The Story of Narrative Art

Exhibition in collaboration with the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum





17 March –  9 September 2023

Narrative Art was the reality television of the Victorian era. While the artistic elite rejected it, the general public loved to see soap opera drama on the gallery walls. Its accessible and sensational quality allowed viewers to transport themselves to the scene and identify with the characters depicted. Narrative Art was often a visual companion to novels, and many famous narrative pieces drew their inspiration from literature. Narrative Art tells us so much about the Victorian Age, what people feared and desired, their dark secrets and prejudice. as well as their hopes and dreams. Telling Tales will explore Victorian attitudes, from the cradle to the grave, through paintings chosen to show love and loss, the perils of being a woman, the foreshadowing of adult life though childhood, and how war and Empire were legitimised. Through the paintings and objects in this exhibition, we learn about how the Victorians lived, and the tales they told.



James Tissot, The Captain’s Daughter, 1873, oil on canvas, Southampton City Art Gallery

Image © Southampton Cultural Services


Book your tickets here…

Take a closer look at this compelling exhibition with its curator, Kirsty Stonell Walker, and find out more about the paintings on display and the decision making process behind the way they are exhibited.

Kirsty Stonell Walker is a curator, art historian and author, specialising in Victorian art and social history. Her non fiction works include The Pre-Raphaelite Girl Gang (2018) and Light and Love (2020). She has also published two novels A Curl of Copper and Pearl (2014) and We Are Villains All (2015)

This tour will last approximately 45 minutes with the chance to ask questions afterwards. Please be aware that this is not a seated event, although portable chairs will be available on request.

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