George Adolphus Storey was a member of the ‘St. John’s Wood Clique’, an artistic circle based in St John’s Wood from the 1870s to the 1880s. They sought to paint historical scenes with a new vigour. The Violinist here wears a dress influenced by Renaissance style. The high collar and ruff, damask pattern, loose back and cuffs were associated with the Aesthetic movement, which is also evoked by the Chinese wallpaper in the background. Aestheticism prized 'art for art's sake', and sought to represent refined beauty in all forms.
Aestheticism was not only a movement in visual culture, but also one that was regarded by its proponents as a way of life, encompassing fashion, literature, interior design, demeanour, language and the affectation of specific behaviour. This work was purchased just two years after the Guildhall Art Gallery opened. Alfred Temple, the Gallery’s first director, bought it from the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths.