Telling Tales: The Story of Victorian Narrative Art

Event Date: 8 October 2022 – 5 March 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.

This exhibition is a collaboration with Southampton City Art Gallery, featuring masterpieces from both collections.


  • Venue: Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum
  • East Cliff Promenade
  • Bournemouth
  • Dorset
  • BH1 3AA