From Netflix’s latest hit series, Bridgerton, to corsets making a come-back, 2021 has seen a renaissance in all things Regency and the art world is of no exception. With many artists finding themselves inspired by the perfectly coiffed wigs, ruched ballgowns and lavish interiors of the 18th and 19th centuries, we take a look at the artists helping us relive the romance of the Regency era. From the Miaz Brothers’ mysterious portraits to Bradley Theodore’s colourful canvases, these vibrant artworks are assured to delight even the most supercilious members of the ton.
Be it an Austen novel or historical drama, everyone knows that the core of any good Regency story hinges upon a masked or mistaken identity. There seems no artwork more fitting to this fact, than the prints and painting of the Miaz Brothers. The Italian duo create hazy renderings of portraits and still life objects, pushing the boundaries of perception and interpretation. The pair's latest series of work examines historical paintings, reimagining Old Master artworks in their signature out-of-focus style.
Rendered with layers of aerosol paint, the Miaz Brothers’ obscured figures intrigue the viewer and much like the clandestine nature of many of our Regency heroes, the identity of the duos historical sitters remains anonymous. We are prompted to envisage a place where the past and the present collide, and where the sitter becomes subject to our own imagination.
With a greater focus on colour rather than form, artist Bradley Theodore tackles the 18th century in a contrasting way to the Miaz Brothers. Using a kaleidoscopic range of vivid pigments, Theodore captures the electric vitality and flamboyant richness of the era in his paintings. Using an ostentatious palette and bold brushstrokes to match, the viewer is transported to a fictious realm where the Royal Courts of France celebrate Día de Muertos.
For many authors and screenwriters, the Regency era – as well as the French neoclassical period that proceeded it - has become a fictional backdrop. The juxtaposing grandeur and strict social codes of the epoch create the perfect setting for any captivating story that flirts with the idea of temptation and corruption, seduction and scandal. Tyler Shields' Decadence series is the perfect example of this, with his photographs detailing the wickedly extravagant lives of French courtiers.
Inspired by the court of Marie Antoinette, Shields’ photographs explore the opulence and indulgence of the 18th century. Captured by a fifty-year-old camera, Shields’ work has a certain softness and dreamlike quality that only seems to enhance the sensuality of his work. Although the staged scenes would have undoubtedly caused hysteria in the French court, it is not the historical accuracies of the work that compel us, but the hedonism and intrigue. Afterall, who can say they watched Bridgerton for the history?