Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Rather negative review of the new Waterhouse exhibition

By Richard Dorment
Daily Telegraph

The Pre-Raphaelites - BBC iPlayer

there is also an episode 2
Sorry - only available in the UK

Edward Burne-Jones - Standing figure holding a staff

9.5 x 5 3/4"
signed l.r.

Edward Burne-Jones - Princess Sabra (drawing)


13 3/4 x 8"

a compositional design for the painting of the same name. The original commission was from the painter Myles Birket Foster in 1864 for his house at Witley, Surrey.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Edward Burne-Jones - In a Wood

7 x 15"
This seems to be connected with another of his watercolour's Green Summer
Burne Jones is not known to have sketched out of doors and this seems to be a purely imaginary woodscape. It is similar in style to woodscapes by his friend George Price Boyce who used the device here of placing tree stems across the front of the composition to give a sense of 'looking in' to the wood.

John William Waterhouse - Study of the head of a Model

red and black chalks
The name of this beautiful model (often used by Waterhouse, eg. in Nymphs finding the Head of Orpheus) is still unknown.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Arthur Hughes - The Nativity

black chalks
12 x 8 3/4"

William Morris tile - Columbine

Walter Crane - The Diver

Watercolour on backboard
exhibited at the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolour in 1889
22 x 26"

Friday, June 26, 2009

John William Waterhouse - portrait of Claire Kenworthy

oil on canvas
35 x 27"
The artist's niece by marriage.

Arthur Hughes - Portrait of Mary Meade

oil on canvas
signed ARTHUR HUGHES/1870 l.r.
43 x 30"
portrait of Mary Elizabeth Blanche Mead, b 1866, daughter of the Hon Sir Robert Henry Meade and Lady Elizabeth Lascelles. The Mother died tragically just after child birth and Sir Robert married Caroline Grenfell daughter of the MP. She also died in childbirth and Mary effectively became the Mother of the son as he grew up in Taplow Court (Cliveden). Mary d in 1897. This picture descended through the family.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

John Everett Millais - Clarissa

oil on canvas
signed with monogram and dated 18JM87 l.l.
57 3/4 x 37"
This is a portrait of the artists daughter Sophie wearing a dress of the 1770's and loosely based on a picture of Gainsborough's - though the character is from Samuel Richardson's novel of the same name. The torn letter refers to the style of the novel, which was epistolatory in form.
The picture was owned by J. Staat Forbes a keen collector (he had over 3000 pictures by his death in 1904).

Frederick Sandys - Judith

oil on board
15 3/4 x 11 3/4"
early 1860's
until it was sold by Sotherby's in 1996 it had not been seen on view in public since 1879.
The figure is Judith from the Bible and shows Sandy's interest in Jewish history. He was friends with Simeon Solomon (as well as close friends with Rossetti). The model was a gypsy girl called Keomi who was also the mistress of the artist and also modelled for Rossetti (eg, in The Beloved).

Here's your son sir....

Great interpretation of
Take your Son, Sir! an unfinished painting by Ford Madox Brown.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Miss Burton

oil on canvas
painted in 1865
6 1/4 x 8 3/4"
The Miss Burton (my Mother's maiden name incidentally) has not been identified but may have been the daughter of Sir William Frederick Burton (Irish watercolourist who later became the Director of the National Gallery) with who Rossetti was friends, especially in the mid 60's. Rossetti gave this painting to his close friend George Price Boyce who was also a friend of Burton's. The original title of the picture when sold at Boyce's sale in 1899 was 'Girl with a Blue Hood'. It sold for £32. At the Sotherby's sale in 1996 from which this is taken it was estimated at £25 - £35,000 (unfortunately I don't have the actual result).

William Holman Hunt - The Square, Athens

Watercolour with bodycolour
signed WHH 92 l.l.
14.5 x 20"
Hunt and his second wife Edith visited Athens on his fourth (and final) journey to Syria and the Holy Land in early 1892. It was exhibited at the Royal Watercolour Society in 1893.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Annie Miller

[portrait by Rossetti, c. 1860, Pencil, pen, ink and grey wash on paper]
famous as the mistress of Holman Hunt (and other PRB members) and the model for The Awakening Conscience.


Pre-Raphaelite art: the paintings that obsessed the Victorians (article)

By Franny Moyle

Thomas Cooper Gotch - Alleluia

oil on canvas
Tate Gallery
I don't know Gotch's work well enough to know if this is a larger version of this
(notice the slightly different spelling)
or the other way round.
After a visit to Florence (1891-2) his paintings were completely changed from those rather typical of the Newlyn School to very colourful, symbolic paintings often based around the theme of childhood, often featuring his daughter Phyllis and her friends.
He is considered one of the later Pre-Raphaelites for his style but inmany ways he is also a Symbolist.
There are a lot of his works here in Kettering:

Sunday, June 21, 2009

John Everett Millais - Lingering Autumn


John Everett Millais - Vanessa

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Blessed Damozel

THE blessed Damozel lean'd out
From the gold bar of Heaven:
Her blue grave eyes were deeper much
Than a deep water, even.
She had three lilies in her hand,
And the stars in her hair were seven.

Her robe, ungirt from clasp to hem,
No wrought flowers did adorn,
But a white rose of Mary's gift
On the neck meetly worn;
And her hair, lying down her back,
Was yellow like ripe corn.

Herseem'd she scarce had been a day
One of God's choristers;
The wonder was not yet quite gone
From that still look of hers;
Albeit, to them she left, her day
Had counted as ten years.

(To one it is ten years of years:
...Yet now, here in this place,
Surely she lean'd o'er me,--her hair
Fell all about my face....
Nothing: the Autumn-fall of leaves.
The whole year sets apace.)

It was the terrace of God's house
That she was standing on,--
By God built over the sheer depth
In which Space is begun;
So high, that looking downward thence,
She scarce could see the sun.

It lies from Heaven across the flood
Of ether, as a bridge.
Beneath, the tides of day and night
With flame and darkness ridge
The void, as low as where this earth
Spins like a fretful midge.

But in those tracts, with her, it was
The peace of utter light
And silence. For no breeze may stir
Along the steady flight
Of seraphim; no echo there,
Beyond all depth or height.

Heard hardly, some of her new friends,
Playing at holy games,
Spake gentle-mouth'd, among themselves,
Their virginal chaste names;
And the souls, mounting up to God,
Went by her like thin flames.

And still she bow'd herself, and stoop'd
Into the vast waste calm;
Till her bosom's pressure must have made
The bar she lean'd on warm,
And the lilies lay as if asleep
Along her bended arm.

From the fixt lull of Heaven, she saw
Time, like a pulse, shake fierce
Through all the worlds. Her gaze still strove,
In that steep gulf, to pierce
The swarm; and then she spoke, as when
The stars sang in their spheres.

'I wish that he were come to me,
For he will come,' she said.
'Have I not pray'd in solemn Heaven?
On earth, has he not pray'd?
Are not two prayers a perfect strength?
And shall I feel afraid?

'When round his head the aureole clings,
And he is clothed in white,
I'll take his hand, and go with him
To the deep wells of light,
And we will step down as to a stream
And bathe there in God's sight.

'We two will stand beside that shrine,
Occult, withheld, untrod,
Whose lamps tremble continually
With prayer sent up to God;
And where each need, reveal'd, expects
Its patient period.

'We two will lie i' the shadow of
That living mystic tree
Within whose secret growth the Dove
Sometimes is felt to be,
While every leaf that His plumes touch
Saith His name audibly.

'And I myself will teach to him,--
I myself, lying so,--
The songs I sing here; which his mouth
Shall pause in, hush'd and slow,
Finding some knowledge at each pause,
And some new thing to know.'

(Alas! to her wise simple mind
These things were all but known
Before: they trembled on her sense,--
Her voice had caught their tone.
Alas for lonely Heaven! Alas
For life wrung out alone!

Alas, and though the end were reach'd?...
Was thy part understood
Or borne in trust? And for her sake
Shall this too be found good?--
May the close lips that knew not prayer
Praise ever, though they would?)

'We two,' she said, 'will seek the groves
Where the lady Mary is,
With her five handmaidens, whose names
Are five sweet symphonies:--
Cecily, Gertrude, Magdalen,
Margaret and Rosalys.

'Circle-wise sit they, with bound locks
And bosoms covered;
Into the fine cloth, white like flame,
Weaving the golden thread,
To fashion the birth-robes for them
Who are just born, being dead.

'He shall fear, haply, and be dumb.
Then I will lay my cheek
To his, and tell about our love,
Not once abash'd or weak:
And the dear Mother will approve
My pride, and let me speak.

'Herself shall bring us, hand in hand,
To Him round whom all souls
Kneel--the unnumber'd solemn heads
Bow'd with their aureoles:
And Angels, meeting us, shall sing
To their citherns and citoles.

'There will I ask of Christ the Lord
Thus much for him and me:--
To have more blessing than on earth
In nowise; but to be
As then we were,--being as then
At peace. Yea, verily.

'Yea, verily; when he is come
We will do thus and thus:
Till this my vigil seem quite strange
And almost fabulous;
We two will live at once, one life;
And peace shall be with us.'

She gazed, and listen'd, and then said,
Less sad of speech than mild,--
'All this is when he comes.' She ceased:
The light thrill'd past her, fill'd
With Angels, in strong level lapse.
Her eyes pray'd, and she smiled.

(I saw her smile.) But soon their flight
Was vague 'mid the poised spheres.
And then she cast her arms along
The golden barriers,
And laid her face between her hands,
And wept. (I heard her tears.)


Thursday, June 18, 2009

John William Waterhouse - reactions to The Lady of Shalott 1888

As the RA stages a major survey of John William Waterhouse’s work, Frank Whitford evokes the world of the 1888 Summer Exhibition, the year the celebrated artist’s most famous painting The Lady of Shalott was unveiled.

An Echo by Christina Rossetti (video)

James Collinson - A Son of the Soil

c. 1856

Henry Wallis -

[A Young Girl Arranging A Bouquet]
oil on panel
Wallis' method of painting, especially in the early years of his career, and in particular on "Death of Chatterton", was to do the initial sketch, saturate it in water, use a grey tint to block in the shade, put on the colour and allow it to dry. When firm, he would use a hair pencil to add in the details, for which he is so renowned. For the light, he would touch the area in question with water and then rub it with a piece of bread.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

More celebrity spotting ...

[Lorenzo and Isabella]
oil on canvas
signed and dated JE Millais 1849 PRB
The initials PRB also appear on the side of Isabella's stool
This is Millais's first Pre-Raphaelite painting, was painted during 1848 when he was just 19 years old. The subject is taken from Keats's poem 'Isabella' or 'The Pot of Basil'.
I was doing a study of this painting and read that due to his lack of 'tin' (money) Millais had to use his friends as models.
Lorenzo (offering Isabella the fruit) was modelled by his brother William Michael, Rossetti is in profile at the back drinking from the glass, Millais' father is wiping his mouth with the napkin (half way down on the right) and Fred Stephens can also be seen with Walter Deverell on the left.
Much has been made of the leg of the brother which points straight at his sister, both reflecting the death of Lorenzo and perhaps at a hint of his erotic feelings towards his sister. The nutcracker he is holding is no dount also meaningful.
A very mature and arresting painting for anyone, let alone a 19 year old.
A large reproduction is here:

James Collinson - Answering the Emigrant's Letter


Walter Howell Deverell

[Twelth Night, Act II, Scene IV]

Walter Howell Deverell (1827 – 1854) wasn't a member of the PRB but was friends and closely associated with them. It was Deverell who discovered Lizzie Siddal in the draper's shop where she worked and she is in this picture on the left as Viola. Rossetti was the model for the clown. Orsino was a self-portrait by the artist.
He never actually got to join the PRB and died at the early age of 21 of Bright's disease.
It was Mrs Deverell who visited the Siddal's to persuade them that it was okay for Lizzie to model for her son (artist's models were often regarded as or were actually prostitutes at the time). Oddly the Siddal's were related to the Hill's who had a daughter already modelling for Ford Madox Brown (Rossetti's tutor) and was engaged to him. Deverell was very handsome and from a respectable family and this may have been part of the attraction for the family and Lizzie.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Frederic George Stephens

[portrait by Millais]

[Morte d'Arthur circa 1850-55]

Frederick George Stephens was a student at the Royal Academy with Holman Hunt, Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and Thomas Woolner. He was asked to join the original three members of the PRB (Hunt, Rossetti, and Millais) in 1848. It is generally agreed that Stephens' talent for painting was sparse, however, and he eventually gave up art for teaching. In 1860, Stephens wrote a biography, published anonymously, of William Holman Hunt. In 1861, he became the art critic for The Athenaeum, a job he held for forty years.

What's in a name - the PRB

In 1848, Holman Hunt, Millais and Rossetti were good friends and looking through a book of engravings from Pisa's Campo Santo, they decided to form a 'League of Sincerity' looking at life and nature in a new 'realistic' way and throwing off what they saw as the mannerism and artificiality of the painting styles of the time.
Hunt though that Pre-Raphaelite was a better name given their love of medieval artists who they thought had approached their art with an uncomplicated honesty. Rossetti suggested they add the word Brotherhood.. And so on that night, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was born. To bring the number of members up to the mystical number seven, they invited Fred Stephens, Thomas Woolner and James Collinson to join and a little later, Rossetti's brother William Michael (as secretary). Hunt later recalled how they discussed reinventing furniture, fabrics, buildings and even fashion.
They wanted to live in a house with PRB mext to the front door, that those not in the know would read as 'Please Ring Bell'.

Rossetti's paint

[La Bella Nano, 1875]
Rossetti studied oil painting with Holman Hunt. Hunt already had a student, Fred Stephens but Rossetti persuaded him to teach him and Holman Hunt rented an extra single bedroom at the top of the house he was in. Rossetti struggled at first, not having painted in oils before and actually used the oils as though they were watercolours, applying the oils very thinly and using slender brushes. He primed the canvases with white until it was like the paper he was used to and almost inadvertantly he developed a new techniqies of the oils becoming almost transparent.

Monday, June 15, 2009

John Everett Millais - Christ in the House of His Parents

original drawing
Tate collection

Short video on this painting

Franny Moyle mentions that Millais spent hours in a real carpenter's shop in Oxford Street studying wood shavings. Joseph was modelled on a grocer from Holborn and the sheep in the background were modelled on stinking sheep's heads from a local butchers. 'Jesus' was a 'skinny child with rather large feet'.

Many reports go on about the attacks made by critics (and some of the public) about the realism of this picture. In the 15th June (1850) edition of Household Works, Charles Dickens wrote:
"You behold the interior of a carpenter's shop. In the foreground of that carpenter's shop is a hideous, wry-necked, blubbering red-headed boy, in a bed=gown, who appears to have received a poke in the hand, from the stick of another boy with whom he has been playing in an adjacent gutter, and to be holding it up for the contemplation of a kneeling woman, so horrible in her ugliness, that (supposing it were possible for any human creature to exist for a moment with that dislocated throat) she would stand out from the rest of the company as a Monster, in the vilest cabaret in France, or the lowest ginshop in England. Two almost naked carpenters, master and journeyman, worthy companions of this agreeable female, are working at their trade; a boy with some small flavour of humanity in him, is entering with a vessel of water; and nobody is paying any attention to a snuffy old woman who seems to have mistaken the shop for the tobacconist's next door, and to be hopelessly waiting at the counter to be served with half an ounce of her favourite mixture. Wherever it is possible to express ugliness of feature, limb, or attitude, you have it expressed."

Dante Gabriel Rossetti portrait of Ford Madox Brown


John Everett Millais by William Holman Hunt