Herbert Colborne Oakley (1869 - 1944)
Bournemouth Art Society
The first in a series of four lectures in connection with the above Society was given on Friday afternoon, March 5th, in St Peters Small Hall. The proceedings began at two o'clock by a competitive class for members only, when a picture was executed by each member present of a figure to illustrate "Weather beaten". At the lecture the chair weas taken by Mr. A. Lindsay. The Hon. Treasurer (Mr. Kerryson Preston) and Miss C. Agnes Rooper (Hon. Sec.) were also present. The lecturer was Mr. H. Colborne Oakley, and the subject of his lecture was "The Aesthetic movement round about Art: What we owe to it."
The lecturer dealt at some length with the principles of Aestheticism, and on the need of it--in these days of growing towns and great cities--pointing out that the science of the beautiful was increasingly necessary as a salutary corrective of some of the sordid aspects of the material side of modern life.
The lecturer traced the origin of the movement to the romantic influence in the direction of the beautiful to be found in such poets as Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, and others, and to that original band of earnest workers in art now honourably known to fame as the pre-Raphaelites. He showed that the Aesthetic movement was no mere idle cult of the amateur and a pose of the dilettante, but a serious a sustained propaganda in artistic culture and the science of the beautiful. The movement was riddled with ribald humour and general ridicule, and in the amusing pages of "Punch" of that period--satire as severe--(as often) it was funny, was brought to bear on the Aesthetes, artistes and poets, who by word and deed, in season and out of season, proclaimed the fascinating cult of beauty, and the attractions of novel and visual art. In 1881 Gilbert and Sullivan produced "Patience", which cleverly written work was a direct and deliberate satire on the movement. Possibly and very probably, the effect of the play was to supress any artificial and extravagant aspects of the movement, but the residue of real culture, the essence of an artistic look, at once novel, vigorous and sincere, could not be supressed, and the lecturer demonstrated that we were their happy heritors, beneficiaries of their courage and enthusiasm, and that to the Aesthetic movement of 35 years ago we owe much of the many improvements in the direction of the happy--and never to be divorced, marriage of the arts and crafts in all their manifold and retiring ministrations to a fuller life--that joy in the beautiful can bring to all--in a busy and material age.
At the conclusion of a most interesting and valuable paper a lively discussion took place, followed by the award of the prize--a handsome book to Miss Boucher.
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