Biography: Albert Joseph Moore was born into a large family in York, several of whom-his father and three brothers-were painters. In this artistic atmosphere his talent was encouraged and promoted, and he enrolled in the York School of Design, where study of the nude had recently been initiated through the efforts of the Royal Academician William Etty. The early death of his father precipitated the family's move to London, where Moore entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1858. His student work of this period shows a Pre-Raphaelite interest in the observation of nature in great detail.
A visit to the continent in 1859, which included Paris and Rome, was the only time that he ever he traveled outside of England. For the remainder of his life, with a few exceptions, he lived entirely in London. His trip abroad may well have been the inspiration for an interest in classical sculpture. Moving away from the Old Testament scenes he had exhibited in the 1860s, Moore joined other artists of the day, including Frederic Leighton and Edward Poynter, in a new interest in classical subjects. He began painting figures draped in Greek and Roman robes and placed in simple settings that evoked this earlier world. In 1869 he exhibited A Venus (York) at the Royal Academy, a single nude figure modeled after the Venus de Milo.
During the 1860s and 1870s, along with Edward Burne-Jones and others, Moore began designing for the decorative arts-fabric, wallpaper, and tiles, as well as stained glass-for Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company. In addition, he took on the decoration of several interiors: Coombe Abbey, in Warwickshire, for Lord Craven, and St. Alban's Church, Rochdale. It was in these interior design schemes that Moore began to work out what was to become his mature style, very much in keeping with the burgeoning Aesthetic Movement. He met James McNeill Whistler in 1865; the two became close friends, and through Whistler, Moore learned of Japanese design and motifs, and, most importantly, woodcuts. His paintings from this time on acquire a lighter palette with a focus on subtle color harmonies and carefully placed decorative elements. By the end of the decade, the two artists began moving apart as their artistic interests and inspirations diverged, although they remained lifelong friends.
With the opening of the Grosvenor Gallery in 1877, Moore found an exhibition venue appreciative of his Aesthetic style, and he exhibited there regularly. In the same year he moved to a small, unobtrusive house in 1 Holland Lane, close to the more imposing dwellings of Frederic Leighton and George Frederic Watts. Moore, however, did not play the part of the socially active, successful artist. He continued his work, honing a lengthy creative process consisting of pen-and-ink sketches, charcoal studies, cartoons, and small color oils, a few of which actually evolved into finished paintings.
Moore lived a quiet life, one of self-imposed removal from the fanfare of artistic society. At his death in 1893 he was both unrecognized and under-appreciated, a fact that would not have concerned him. A biography by Alfred Lys Baldry, one of his students, was published in 1894, and saved him from near obscurity.
From "Biography of Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893)" by Stephen Wildman, in 'Waking Dreams: The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites from the Delaware Art Museum' (Alexandria, VA: Art Services International, 2004), p. 364-365.