NEW HAVEN — All right, all you fans of “Downton Abbey”: Are you ready for a brisk slap around the cheeks? Some smelling salts to rouse you from your swoon? You admit you’re partial to a bit of upstairs-downstairs drama — but how much downstairs can you take? Want to know what it was like in the Edwardian coal mines and factories? Can you bear to discover what went into the making of those ostrich feather fans the leisured elite loved to shake about?
Relax. “Edwardian Opulence,” a wonderful survey of British art and society before the First World War at the Yale Center for British Art, is not overly concerned with rubbing your nose in reality. It’s a survey of high-end visual culture in the Edwardian age, roughly 1900 to 1914.