Lines and Colors art blog

Edwin Longesden Long

Edwin Longesden Long
19th century British painter Edwin Longesden Long began his career as portrait painter.

He became friends with painter John Phillip, who was noted for his portrayals of life in Spain, and accompanied him on trips there, where he painted Spanish genre scenes and was introduced to the works of Velázquez and other great Spanish painters.

Long was modestly successful as a portraitist and genre painter, but it was after trips to Egypt and Syria in 1874 that he shifted his focus, and his success and recognition came as an orientalist, painting large elaborate pictures of Biblical subjects and exotic tableaux of scenes from the Middle East like The Babylonian Marriage Market (images above, top, with detail).

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the latter painting in person, and it’s easy to see why Long’s work was in demand and at high prices. He filled these beautifully painted large canvasses not only with attractive people, particularly women in exotic costume, but with richly detailed archeological objects, recreated with great accuracy.

Long was the forerunner of a style exemplified by slightly later Victorian painters like Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Sir Edward John Poynter and Frederick Lord Leighton.


2 responses to “Edwin Longesden Long”

  1. I have always loved these paintings. Thanks for bringing them to our attention again. One of my history teachers was an admirer of this artist and I remember his office had a huge reproduction of the Babylonian Marriage Market.

  2. The top painting was part of an exhibit of Victorian paintings at the Museum of Art on BYU’s campus a year or two ago. I had a chance to see it several times and was continually stunned by Long’s craftsmanship and use of light. The huge scale (around 8 feet if I remember right)made it even more impressive. That painting alone made the exhibit worth my time