The Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria’s reign in England – roughly the late 1800’s. It was immediately preceded by the Georgian
era and followed by the Edwardian era. Victorian
style is traditionally categorized by a sort of Gothic revival – very ornate
details and bright, rich colors. A great
example of this style is the “painted ladies” – Victorian style row houses
painted in this colorful way (see photo right). In the US, we tend to refer to this style of architecture as “Gingerbread.”
During this historic era there were also huge leaps in
cultural events including The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace. This represents the birth of the World’s Fair
– an amazing spectacle offering new and exciting things from around the globe.
Artistically speaking, the Victorian era encompassed a revival of many earlier styles – incorporating some of the more “modern” features of steel and stained glass. Tiffany comes to mind for a great representative of this as do the work of such artist as Ward and Campbell Brothers and Henry Holiday.
The Victorian palette was full of bold, rich colors as well as light and bright colors. Both inside and outside the home were embellished, often to extremes. Exteriors were often painted in triadic (or even quadratic!) color schemes.
Examples of Victorian triadic color palettes.
Victorian jewelry was predominated by cameos, diamonds and pearls – the influence of Queen Victoria’s personal style. Victoria was also responsible for helping the Opal industry by dismissing the claim that opals were bad luck to wearers other than those who had the opal as their birthstone.
The Victorian period is also characterized by natural influences, most likely due to the romantic nature of the era. Branches, birds, flowers, snakes – all were popular to incorporate into jewelry. Probably the most famous example of this is the engagement ring that Albert gave to Victoria – A snake with a large emerald set head (her birthstone). The stone Jet also became popularized by Victoria after Albert’s death. “Mourning Jewelry” became a way to incorporate fashion into mourning. After Albert’s death, Victoria went into a permanent state of mourning, wearing only black clothing and jewelry.
Here we see Queen Victoria in mourning garb – lots of black cameos, black dress and, of course, pearls.