Sir Thomas Francis Dicksee's 1893 painting Funeral of a Viking is an imagined reproduction of the now-commonly known viking funeral, which went a long way to spread knowledge of the historical practice amongst the Victorian populace. Dicksee, an esteemed painter of figures from popular and historical myths and literature garnered great commercial acclaim through his figurative reproductions of society women, and began as an illustrator for popular magazines and periodicals. Fine-tuning his talent on the way, the artist's style would emerge as one suffused with a fluid, symphonic approach to color, culminating in works of such vibrant majesty as Funeral of a Viking. Demonstrating a stunning assemblage of diverse influences, ranging from the Victorian master Frederick Leighton to the interior decoration of the arts and crafts movement, Dickee was a great supporter of the Victorian doctrine of moral and artistic superiority. Consequently, the artist was not the biggest fan of the emerging modernism that he found pervading the cultural sphere towards the end of the his life.
Dicksee's Funeral of a Viking has been the centrepiece of the Manchester Art Gallery since 1928. Upon it's first exhibition in 1893 the painting received a mixed range of reviews, drawing attention to the technical mastery of its creation and the dramatic pre-cinematic flourish of the mise-en-scene. Known for his historical genre canvases, Dicksee's Funeral of a Viking demonstrates the artist's remarkable imagination and flair for forging iconic images of legendary folklore, lit in idiosyncratic ways. Although as far removed from the avant-garde as is possible to get, Dicksee's knowledge of the visual culture of his era demonstrates a remarkable grasp of the zeitgeist. Often derided as a bastion of the old order, Dicksee later became an outspoken critic of modernism in art and became the leading voice in response to those criticising the old ways of Academy painting.
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