Skip to Main Content

The Darker Side of Light: Arts of Privacy, 1850-1900

Late 19th–century art is usually identified with airy and colorful impressionist paintings and the radiant atmosphere of Paris. But in the shadowy recesses an art of a very different kind thrived. Prints, drawings, and small sculpture from the period present an alternative vision in depictions of the inner worlds of emotions, anxieties, and fantasies. Mainly stored away rather than openly displayed by their owners, the works in this exhibition appealed to artists and audiences devoted to a private aesthetic experience. Peter Parshall, the Gallery's curator of old master prints, talks about the works in the exhibition and their subtle and complex depictions of human psychology decades before the publication of Sigmund Freud's theories on the unconscious.