Masterworks of British Painting

The Museum’s collection of British painting is comprised mostly of work from the Georgian era, the reign of kings George I-III from 1714-1837, and the Victorian era, the reign of Queen Victoria from 1837-1901.

During the Georgian era, accomplished portrait painter Joshua Reynolds founded the British Royal Academy of Art under the patronage of King George III. This institution provided artists with an influential and exclusive exhibition venue, the Royal Academy, which helped foster the emergence of a distinctively British art tradition. A number of the artists in this gallery were members of the Royal Academy, as were many of the artists featured in the Museum’s fall 2018 exhibition, Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Another key factor in the development of a distinctly British art was the country’s deepening separation from the rest of Europe, amid a series of wars with France, which began in the 1790s. Having become closed off from Continental Europe, British artists increasingly turned their focus to the land, history, culture, and peoples of Great Britain, all subjects that are well represented in our British painting gallery.


Image credit: Thomas Lawrence (British, 1769–1830). Baron Bexley, 1824. Oil on canvas. Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Museum purchase with funds raised by the Oklahoma Museum of Art Volunteer Association and Anonymous Donors, 1976.040