Idyllic vintage photographs capture the rustic rural life in Victorian England, 1857

These idyllic photographs, taken by William Morris Grundy, capture rural life in England during the Victorian era. Born in Birmingham in 1806, Grundy took up photography in 1855 and made dozens of stereoscopic photographs, primarily stylized scenes of pastoral activities such as hunting, fishing and farming.

The London Stereoscopic Company bought about 200 of his negatives, and the personal stereographs still exist. However, Grundy's work is best known for twenty original album prints, based on the country anthology Sunshine, A Book of Rural Poetry Embellished with Photographs from Nature (London, 1861).

Despite the growth of towns, some features of Victorian Britain remained entirely rural. The landed aristocracy lived quite comfortably, served by their domestic servants, in the estates of their country and those who made money from the commerce industry were usually quick to invest it in the land.

Family life was enthusiastically idealized, symbolizing the young Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their nine children. Yet, for the extremely poor it was nothing more than a pipe dream as social inequality became more marked and deepened.

Industrialization brought about rapid changes in everyday life that affected all classes and as a result Victorian society was full of extreme and shocking contradictions.

In cities, new construction work and flourishing development went hand in hand with overcrowded slums, where people lived in poor housing conditions, worked long hours and died prematurely.

In rural areas, wages for farm laborers were low and as workers lost jobs to machines, they intensified an ever-increasing movement from the countryside to the towns.

Ideologically, the Victorian era saw resistance to rationalism, which defined the Georgian period, and a growing turn toward romanticism and even mysticism in relation to religion, social values, and the arts. Technically, this era saw a large number of innovations that proved crucial to Britain's power and prosperity.

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