"Gilbert and Sullivan's fifth Savoy Opera, Patience (1881), is a shining example of the critical role of satire in popular culture, and a most important record of how many self–righteous upper middle class contemporaries viewed fringe schools of thought and pop culture during the dissipation of the Evangelical church. The operetta's premise is that Reginald Bunthorne and Archibald Grosvenor––characters reputedly based upon Oscar Wilde and Charles Swinburne respectively, although the actor who originally played Bunthorne drew on Whistler––are shams as bogus as the aesthetic movement that they embody."
(William R. Terpening, 1998, Victorian Web)
Exhibition: The Cult of Beauty: The Aesthetic Movement is at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London SW7 from 2 April to 17 July 2011.
"The movement started in a small way in the 1860s in the studios and houses of a radical group of artists and designers, including William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. These were angry young reformers who explored new ways of living in defiance of the horrendous design standards of the age as revealed in the 1851 Great Exhibition.
Over the next two decades aestheticism burgeoned, drawing in architects and craftworkers, poets, critics and philosophers to create a movement dedicated to pure beauty. The aesthetic movement stood in stark and sometimes shocking contrast to the crass materialism of Britain in the 19th century. "Art for art's sake" was its battle cry, a slogan that originated with the French poet Théophile Gautier."
(Fiona MacCarthy, 26 March 2011, The Guardian)