Sunday, February 27, 2011

Edward Robert Hughes

Just noticed this:

Victoria Osborne is Curator (Fine Art) at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, specialising in nineteenth-century British art, particularly works on paper. She has been the organising curator of two major Pre-Raphaelite exhibitions, 'Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon and the Pre-Raphaelites' (BM&AG and Museum Villa Stuck, Munich 2005-6) and the current survey show 'The Poetry of Drawing: Pre-Raphaelite Designs, Studies and Watercolours' (BM&AG and Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2011). She is currently researching the life and work of the post Pre-Raphaelite watercolourist Edward Robert Hughes (1851-1914)

John Ruskin - An Olive Spray and Two Leaf Outlines before 1877

John Brett - Glacier of Rosenlaui 1856

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Carlisle Wall (The Lovers) 1853

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - Study of a Man Smoking a Long Pipe circa 1849

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Discovering the Pre-Raphaelites -a study day Birmingham 4th May

Jan Marsh

Edward Burne-Jones - The Golden Stairs 1880

John William Waterhouse - Consulting the Oracle 1884

Ford Madox Brown - Take your Son, Sir'

Found it on the Googla Art project

John William Waterhouse - Maidens Picking Flowers by a Stream (c.1911)

Frank Dicksee - The Two Crowns 1900

Frank Cadogan Cowper Lucretia Borgia Reigns in the Vatican in the Absence of Pope Alexander VI 1908-14

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

William Bell Scott - The Eve of the Deluge 1865

Charles Fairfax Murray - Displaying the Child c. 1872

Frederick Smallfield - Pieruccio the Florentine Prophet

Watercolour on paper
Signed and dated 1862

10.00 inches wide 13.78 inches high

Pieruccio is a little known figure mentioned in Storia Fiorentina, a history of Florence between 1527 and 1538 written for Cosimo de Medici in 1547. Italian Editions appeared in 1848-1849 and 1857-1858, but the book has never been translated into English. The recent Italian reprint or possibly a passage quoted in a review was probably the immediate inspirations for Smallfield's watercolour. The subject is an unusual, one but should be seen in the context of mid-Victorian interest in religious controversy and Florentine history, an interest, which also resulted in George Elliot's novel Romola.(1)

Critical response to Smallfield's exhibits of 1862 was dominated by his `Saint Francis Preaching among the Birds', but `Pieruccio' was mentioned both by the Art Journal and the Illustrated London News. The latter described the figure `declaiming skull in hand.' The Art Journal saw Smallfield as a member of the `Young England school,' (a hostile critical term for Pre-Raphaelitism) probably because of his interest in Italian subjects and also because of his unconventional use of watercolour. Figure painting in watercolour was uncommon, and serious historical painting in watercolour very rare. The contemporary watercolour painter closest to Smallfield in subject matter and treatment was Frederick W. Burton, a very close associate of the Pre-Raphaelites in the 1860's, who resigned from the Old Water colour Society in 1870 in sympathy with Burne-Jones. The half-length format and stippled modelling of `Pieruccio' is very similar to the work developed by Burton in this period, but Smallfield has chosen a subject of uncharacteristic drama and intensity. Watercolours of biblical subjects by Ford Madox Brown and William Bell Scott are also relevant to understanding this work, although, unlike Smallfield, these artists do not treat single figures.

(1) For Lord Leighton's preliminary drawings for his illustrations to Romola see this catalogue (numbers 99- 100, plate 72)

H J Ford - Guinevere

Watercolour and bodycolour on paper
Signed with initials

7.99 inches wide 13.78 inches high

Henry Justice Ford’s imaginative images of Fairy Land were the staple diet of a whole generation of Edwardians. He illustrated Andrew Lang’s long-running series of 12 fairy books that began with The Blue Fairy Book in 1889 and ended in 1910 with The Lilac Fairy Book. The series became a landmark in the presentation of traditional tales, for it introduced children to selections of old and new tales of every kind, known and unknown and from many different sources, at a time when interest in fairy tales was beginning to decline. In addition, not including his work for Punch, he illustrated 13 other volumes edited by Lang: stories from legend, romance and history.

Ford’s graphic style belongs to the great illustrative tradition going back to Bewick, with the foremost influences of Crane, Edward Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites. It was Burne-Jones, his friend, who had the greatest influence on his work, especially on his earlier, precisely decorated line drawings; but it is in the later coloured works that he comes closest to the Pre-Raphaelite vision.

Guinivere was the daughter of Leodogrance of Camiliard, the most beautiful of women and wife of King Arthur. She fell hopelessly in love with Sir Lancelot, one of King Arthur’s famous Knights of the Round Table. The story of her adultery is legendary and resulted in the eventual destruction of Arthur's reign and his death.

Guinivere is generally called the “grey-eyed”; she was buried at Meigle, in Strathmore, and her name has become a synonym of a wanton or adulteress.

Simeon Solomon - Head of a Girl #2

Watercolour on paper
Signed with monogram dated 1889

7.48 inches wide 9.25 inches high

In the 1860's, Simeon Solomon was perhaps the most influential young artist in the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Inspired by Rossetti, Burne-Jones and his own Jewish background, he produced sensuous and idyllic images of classical scenes, decorative figures and religious rituals. Through his art and his engaging personality, he influenced most of his contemporaries in Burne-Jones's circle and also the young avant-garde painters exhibiting, like him, at the Dudley Gallery. From the 1880's his mystic chalk drawings of heads were popular with aesthetes and decadents.

Simeon Solomon was born into a prosperous and distinguished Jewish family in London. His brother Abraham and his sister Rebecca were also artists. His contemporaries at the Royal Academy Schools, in the late 1850's included Albert Moore and William Blake Richmond. Like them, Solomon came under Pre-Raphaelite influence at this time. He showed works, mainly oil paintings, at the Royal Academy from 1858 to 1872. At first, they had biblical and religious themes, but from 1865 he began to show classical subjects. In this year he also began to show watercolours at the newly opened Dudley Gallery. His classical interests were reinforced by visits to Rome in 1867 and 1870, where in 1870 he wrote the mystical Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep, published privately in 1871.

Simeon Solomon was a close friend of Swinburne, whose poems inspired many of his paintings, however he was unbalanced by Swinburne's alcoholism and fascination with perversity. He was arrested on a homosexual charge in 1873 and his career collapsed. He subsequently led an irregular life sponging off his relatives and artist friends and after 1884 living intermittently in St Giles' Workhouse. Flashes of the old humour and talent remained. He said he preferred the Workhouse because it was, so central and although the chalk drawings he produced for dealers in the last thirty years of his life are very variable in quality, the best are deeply evocative and original in style. They should be placed not so much in the Pre-Raphaelite but rather the Symbolist movement. Many gained a wider public in their day through Hollyer's photographs.

This is one of the few fine drawings that Solomon produced at the end of his life, despite the ravages of indigence and alcoholism. Much of his later work was dismissed at the time largely because they were not in fashion. These pensive heads have more in common with the work of such continental artists as Fernand Khnopff and Gustave Moreau. Also the critical attitude towards these works has been intimately related to the general attitude towards homosexuality. However, in his later works Solomon set out to explore particular ways of expressing ideas and emotions around a subject, which was becoming increasingly taboo. By choosing to show only heads, Solomon was able to reject the physical aspects of love in favour of the emotional passion. Few of these heads stare out at us, they are to be observed; self-contained, their eyes are firmly focused on a land we can only imagine.

Many of his works were included in the exhibition, TheSolomon Family of Painters, at the Geffrey Museum, London, in 1985 and Simon Reynolds' monograph on the artist, The Vision of Simeon Solomon, (Catalpa Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire 1985.

1. London, Geffrey Museum, 1985, The Solomon Family of Painters, (catalogue of the exhibition), page 30

Monday, February 21, 2011

Oxford & the Pre-Raphaelites tours

This travel company runs a number of tours that members of this blog might find useful.

other tours:

Ford Madox Brown - Oliver Madox Brown as a baby

John Everett Millais - Sophie Gray 1857

Oil on paper laid on wood
Lent from a private collection courtesy of Peter Nahum at The Leicester Galleries, London to the Tate

Sophie Gray was around twelve when she sat for Autumn Leaves (also on display in this room), and fourteen in this hypnotic image of the onset of maturity, sexual awakening and power. In its resolute likeness, careful drawing and paint application, and subtle tones, this intimate picture is one of the most remarkable realist portraits of the nineteenth century.

William Holman Hunt - Sheet of studies for 'May Morning on Magdalen College Tower'

William Holman Hunt - Study of Nimji for 'The Triumph of the Innocents'

John Brett - The Land's End, Cornwall

John Everett Millais - Oh! that a dream so sweet, so long enjoy’d, Should be so sadly, cruelly destroy’d’ –Moore’s ‘Lalla Rookh’ 1872

Oil on canvas
Lent from a private collection, courtesy of Peter Nahum at The Leicester Galleries, London

The Irish poet Thomas Moore’s Indian romance of 1817, Lalla Rookh, was popular in art from the Romantic period. Millais’s evocative female beauty, fashion, and floral accessories are painted with the active brushwork characteristic of his maturity and inspired by Velázquez. His image of exotic disillusionment is as removed from Moore’s imagined East (the poet had never travelled to India) as it was from 1872, and forms a play on artificiality and painterly performance.

currently on loan to the Tate

John Everett Millais - A Penny for her Thoughts 1879

Etching on paper
Ilustrated in A Series of Twenty-One Etchings, published for the Etching Club, London 1879 Lent from the Geoffroy Richard Everett Millais Collection to the Tate

Here Millais leaves the viewer to construct the narrative; the title and the woman’s thoughtful gaze are the only suggestions for its subject. The fashionable day dress with bustle and train, white lace ruffle cuffs and high collar indicate Millais’s preoccupation with the aesthetics of fashion. The model may be the artist’s second daughter Mary Hunt Millais and the background based on Kensington Gardens and the Long Water, close to Millais’s new home in Palace Gate.

John Everett Millais - George Gray Millais 1876

Oil on canvas
Lent by the Geoffroy Richard Everett Millais Collection to the Tate

This is one of a series of oval portraits Millais made of his children in this period, possibly in emulation of Gainsborough’s images of the offspring of George III in Windsor Castle. George was Millais’s second son and was a student at Cambridge when he contracted the typhoid fever that killed him two years after sitting for this painting.