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Thread: The Pre-Raphaelites

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    The Pre-Raphaelites

    It was on three wet and cold Sunday afternoons as Tasmania and Australia moved first closer to and then beyond the winter solstice---that I learned a few things about art history. What I learned was about an art movement known as the Pre-Raphaelites.

    My wife usually watches Aussie rules on Sunday afternoons and I write in my study. I often go downstairs to make a cup-of-coffee and have a snack in the late afternoon. I see how she is doing; I wash a few dishes and have a break from my writing and reading. As I walked across the lounge-room on these 3 occasions, these 3 Sunday afternoons, I chanced upon these ABC1 half hour programs entitled: The Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Revolutionaries.(1) I did not get to see all of them during what were essentially chance-encounters, but my whistle was whetted and the result is this prose-poem.-Ron Price with thanks to (1)ABC1, 4:30 to 5:00 p.m., 19 June to 10 July 2011; and Desperate Romantics, a six-part drama, follows on BBC Two in July 2011.

    The name John Ruskin caught my ear
    as this focus on individual artists doing
    their own thing, their own ideas and….
    methods of depiction with freedom and
    responsibility being inseparable and the
    emphasis on the spiritual nature-character
    of art---and all of this taking place in those
    transforming 1840s…….That was a decade,
    mirabile dictu.(1) I will not list all the events
    of that incredible decade; it is not surprising
    that this art movement had its start especially
    in 1848 (2) the year of European revolutions.

    What, for some, was the main event, hardly known,
    in Tabarsi when 313 men withstood forces of 1000s
    of the Shah’s men under the black standard----was
    unbeknownst to that wider-western-world(3), & it is
    still mostly, mostly unknown; as is the pre-Raphaelite
    movement: “such is life,” as that Australian outlaw....
    Ned Kelly once said in 1880 on his way to the gallows.

    (1) A Latin expression I first came across while studying Latin in high school: 1958 to 1963, and meaning ‘marvellous to relate.’

    (2) Franny Moyle, “Pre-Raphaelite art: the paintings that obsessed the Victorians,” The Telegraph, 3 July 2011. Go to the following link for this excellent article:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/a...ictorians.html

    (3) Nabil, The Dawn-Breakers, Wilmette, Illinois, Baha’i Publishing Trust, 1974(1932).

    Ron Price
    19 June 2011 to 3 July 2011
    Last edited by Elwell; July 5th, 2011 at 10:13 AM. Reason: fixed link
    married for 48 years, a teacher for 32, a student for 18, a writer and editor for 16, and a Baha'i for 56(in 2015).
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonPrice View Post
    (2) Franny Moyle, “Pre-Raphaelite art: the paintings that obsessed the Victorians,” The Telegraph, 3 July 2011. Go to the following link for this excellent article:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/a...ictorians.html
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    The Pre-Raphaelites

    Broken link or not, I am a huge fan of the pre-Raphaelites. I think they were pretty much the Victorian equivalent of fantasy art.

    Edit after broken link has been fixed: Nice article, and indeed just about time that we look at the work of this group of artists again. Interesting that the very first painting the article notes is precisely the one I happened to pick to attach!
    Last edited by blogmatix; July 5th, 2011 at 10:37 AM.
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    Fixed the link.

    Tristan Elwell
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    Geek factoid :
    technically speaking Waterhouse is not a pre-Raphaelite. Great painter though, and that is one of my favorite paintings.
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    I've allways liked that painting... But when I saw it in real life I felt a bit underwhelmed, for some reason. Maybe it was hanging too close to Millais Ophelia...
    "I've got ham, but I'm not a hamster"

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    I hate to admit it, but his Lady of Shallott never did much for me... I can't help thinking of it as "Lady stuck in a canoe on a bad hair day." (I think it's her expression... and the drab landscape...) His Mermaid fascinated me as a kid, though.

    I think these two might be the Waterhouse paintings that really made me say "oh hey, this guy is pretty cool" and left me wanting to find more of his stuff:
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Geek factoid :
    technically speaking Waterhouse is not a pre-Raphaelite. Great painter though, and that is one of my favorite paintings.
    Indeed, but he was so influenced by them that there is little difference. The pre-Raphaelites were, as far as I know, never a particularly coherent movement anyway. Like the term "fugue" in music, it seems to me to be more a style or an approach than a very specific thing.

    That article RonPrice linked to note an interesting thing. I always thought the pre-Raphaelites were influenced by the impressionists to do such outrageous things as painting out of doors. But it turns out they were actually first to do it.

    If memory serves, they were also influenced by early Netherlandish art, such as Van der Weyden, which I also happen to be a big fan of. In both groups of artists you get the same almost obsessive concern with minute detail, the same rich colouration and the same focus on personal observation rather than theory. One could almost imagine that the attached painting ("Visitation," by Rogier van der Weyden) could have been done in Victorian England.
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    Quote Originally Posted by blogmatix View Post
    Indeed, but he was so influenced by them that there is little difference. The pre-Raphaelites were, as far as I know, never a particularly coherent movement anyway. Like the term "fugue" in music, it seems to me to be more a style or an approach than a very specific thing.
    The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood proper certainly was a coherent movement, and was a very specific thing. Waterhouse gets lumped in as a pre-raph because of his penchant for medieval imagery, but technically/stylistically he couldn't be farther from first-generation PRB aesthetic theory. In fact, one common contemporary criticism of Waterhouse was that his style was too "French" (i.e. loose, impressionist).

    Tristan Elwell
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood proper certainly was a coherent movement, and was a very specific thing.
    According to the Wiki article, these were their principles:

    The Brotherhood's early doctrines were expressed in four declarations:
    to have genuine ideas to express
    to study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them
    to sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parodying and learned by rote
    most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues


    Of these, only the second has any real meaning. Also from the Wiki article:

    These principles are deliberately non-dogmatic, since the Brotherhood wished to emphasise the personal responsibility of individual artists to determine their own ideas and methods of depiction.

    What's more, the coherent phase of the movement lasted only a few years before they disbanded.

    In other words, a short-lived movement dedicated to no very particular thing other than close observation of nature, with its founding principles deliberately phrased to allow individual artists to basically do as they please. That hardly strikes me as a very specific or coherent kind of movement, but its influence did last for decades.

    It is true that initially they all produced a very similar sort of art. Perhaps we use the term pre-Raphaelite too loosely today, to refer to anything that's sort of Victorian-medieval looking. And perhaps one should not refer to Waterhouse as pre-Raphaelite at all, considering he was born only a year after the original movement was founded.

    On the other hand, if we insist on using the term only for the original movement, then that reduces the entire movement to something so small as to be hardly worth mentioning, which would not be an accurate reflection of how influential the movement turned out to be.

    Waterhouse gets lumped in as a pre-raph because of his penchant for medieval imagery, but technically/stylistically he couldn't be farther from first-generation PRB aesthetic theory. In fact, one common contemporary criticism of Waterhouse was that his style was too "French" (i.e. loose, impressionist).
    True, and I would guess he was indeed influenced by the impressionists. However, from the perspective of a 21st century viewer, his work seems far more pre-Raphaelite than impressionist. At least to my eyes.
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    Check this out. Pretty good.

    Here


    Any documentary on the Pre Raphaelites that can use music from the Clash is going to be good.
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    This thread has five images attached to it, none of which is a painting by a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Let me help you with that.

    Millais
    The Pre-Raphaelites

    The Pre-Raphaelites

    The Pre-Raphaelites

    Hunt
    The Pre-Raphaelites

    The Pre-Raphaelites
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    Thanks Serpian. Waterhouse will go on being considered 'Pre-Raphaelite' though, as he fits the preconception of what that actually means, despite, as Elwell says, the inaccuracy of that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serpian View Post
    This thread has five images attached to it, none of which is a painting by a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Let me help you with that.
    True, but that sort of illustrates just how big the movement's influence was, despite the small number of original members and the brevity of its existence. One should really rather talk of pre-Raphaelite-influenced art when referring to anyone outside the original brotherhood, but jeez, then you'd have to use that long, difficult-to-type term for just about every British artist from 1850-1910. ;-)
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