Tuesday, August 23, 2011

John Everett Millais - ruling passion

Knowledge and Family in Millais's The Ruling Passion

John Everett Millais - The Little Speedwell’s Darling Blue 1891-2

The model in this picture was the artist’s granddaughter Phyllis, sister of Willie James who posed for Bubbles (also on display in this room). The title, a quotation from Tennyson’s In Memoriam, comes from a section of the poem that expresses the soul’s longing for the regenerative effects of spring. In the painting this feeling is conveyed by the delicate speedwell, one of the first flowers to open at the onset of the season.

At the Tate lent by National Museums Liverpool, Lady Lever Art Gallery

John William Waterhouse - The Enchanted Garden 1916-7

Ford Madox Brown - The Nosegay 1867

Catherine, the artist’s daughter, sat for the girl. Unusually for Madox Brown, this picture of a young girl gathering flowers accompanied by her tortoiseshell cat contains no literary or historical meaning and is closer in spirit to the solitary female figure with narrative trappings that Rossetti and Millais worked on.

This is the smaller of two versions (the other is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford) which Madox Brown painted to attract ‘Patrons who wanted something pretty’.


Ford Madox Brown - Cordelia’s Portion 1866-72

The subject is based upon Act 1, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’. Lear had dispossessed his youngest and favourite daughter Cordelia. Her honesty in answering that she loved her father ‘according to her bond’ rather than vying with her sisters to suggest that she loved them the most, had led to Lear depriving her of the third of his kingdom that was rightfully hers. Her sisters Goneril and Regan, and their respective husbands, the Dukes of Albany and Cornwall , are shown grasping the crown that Lear has passed to them.

Madox Brown suggests the malevolent intent of these sisters by their mutual gaze. On the right, the King of France looks heavenward and swears love for his future wife, the dowerless Cordelia. The Duke of Burgundy, who will no longer press his suit for Cordelia now that she has been disinherited, stands pensively biting his finger beside Lear’s throne. Lear is shown in the grip of vain rage and already appears slightly crazed.

Behind the throne stands the Duke of Gloucester, Lear’s fool and three spearmen. To the far left, a small figure gazes back into the room with an arm extended downwards in a distraught gesture. It is likely that he is the Duke of Kent who has suffered banishment for trying to persuade Lear to revoke his foolhardy plans.

Madox Brown’s approach to historical verisimilitude in this picture is rather fanciful. The King of France wears vaguely fourteenth-century costume, Lear is dressed in a druidical toga, while Cornwall and Albany have some of the stock accompaniments of stage banditti. The mistletoe above Lear’s head strikes an authentically ancient British note as do the curiously placed oak leaves in the helmets of Lear’s soldiers. Rather less in keeping are the Greek honeysuckle motifs and the imperial griffins on the throne. The tripod table is Roman and the censer, orb and sceptre might well have emanated from the workshop of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company. On the foreground map is marked Dover, where the play ends with the death of Lear, Cordelia and her sisters.

A series of sixteen Lear drawings were first produced by Madox Brown in Paris in 1844 (Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester). Three paintings were developed from these: two versions of this subject and an earlier depiction of ‘The Parting of Cordelia and her Sisters’ (1854 private collection). ‘Cordelia’s Portion’ was commissioned in 1865 by Frederick Craven of Manchester, who liked only watercolours.

It displays the sinuous, decorative linearism of the artist’s later style which he described as ‘sensuous’, and the colours are of the mute, sandy hue that he began to favour at this time.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

William Burges - desk & escritoire

Simeon Solomon as an Illustrator

Maria Francesca Rossetti


BEING AN ESSAY TOWARDS STUDYING HIMSELF, HIS WORLD AND HIS PILGRIMAGE (London: Rivingtons, 1871). First edition, 19 x 13cm (8vo), in publisher's brick red linen w/gilt design by D.G. Rossetti to fr. cover & spine, gilt title to spine, bottom edge trimmed (others untrimmed), cream ep.s w/binder's ticket (Burn & Co.; Ball 20E) to rear pastedown, 296 (xii--the "i" is dropped from p.xi) pp., + tissue-guarded frontis engraving by J.D. Cooper from a design by D.G. Rossetti & 4 fold-out plates. Printed at the Edinburgh Univ. Press by T. & A. Constable. With the sig. of Richard Tobin to recto of fr. ep., & bookseller's ticket of Thos. Shrimpton & Son, Oxford to fr. pastedown. Binding Very Good (spine tips worn, sl. fading to edges of covers, & moderate foxing to ep.s); contents Very Good (occas. lt. spotting, & ink annotation to Dedication page). Academy 15 Dec. 1871 p.551, Ashley IV 162, Ball 161, Colbeck 109 (under D.G. Rossetti), W.E. Fredeman "Woodman" (JPRS Spring 1996) pp.24 29 & 30-31. (Inv. #830) C$400


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Exclusive extract from Fiona MacCarthy's 'The Last Pre-Raphaelite'

The great Pre-Raphaelite Edward Burne-Jones was a married man when he was introduced to the beautiful and passionate Maria Zambaco. In a new biography of the artist, Fiona MacCarthy describes how the model became his lover and finally his tormentor.



The Pre-Raphaelites and Oxford


Hunt, W[illiam]. Holman, OXFORD UNION SOCIETY: THE STORY OF THE PAINTING OF THE PICTURES ON THE WALLS AND THE DECORATIONS ON THE CEILING OF THE OLD DEBATING HALL (NOW THE LIBRARY) IN THE YEARS 1857-8-9 (Oxford: University Press; & London: Henry Froude, 1906). First edition, 37.5 x 27.5cm [folio], in publisher's quarter-bound navy linen w/grey buckram spine, lt. blue title to fr. cover & dark blue title to spine, [42] cardstock pp. w/12 photographic plates of the Oxford Union murals by D.G. Rossetti, W. Holman Hunt, Arthur Hughes, William Morris, E. Burne-Jones, etc. (all w/captioned & "Express Bank" watermarked tissue-guards), & introduction by C.J. Holmes. Stated Limited Edition (168/300) printed by the publisher. Binding Good (corner-tips moderately bumped & worn, spine darkened, & boards a bit marked & soiled); contents Very Good (occas. lt. spotting & thumbing, & verso of final plate browned). Fredeman 36.8 & 79.3, Fennell 953. (Inv. #561) C$250


William Morris's The Earthly Paradise, Three Volumes

Volume One, Parts I & II. London: F.S. Ellis, 1868. First edition, first issue (w/the errors on pp. 75 & 92), 19 x 12.5cm (8vo), in publisher's dark green linen-texture cloth w/paper title-label to spine, a.e. untrimmed, [i-ii publ. adverts], [i-vii] viii, [1] 2-676 [677-678], [1-2 publ. adverts] pp. w/titlepage wood engraving by the author after Edward Burne-Jones (repeated on p.[677]). Printed by Strangeways & Walden, London. Binding Good (extremities sl. worn, title-label chipped, & cloth & ep.s a bit stained); contents Very Good (sl. creasing to 1st few leaves). Slater 3 (Parts I & II), Scott 3, Vaughan 7, Ashley III 163, Ehrsam & Deily 177, Fredeman 43.13, Colbeck 6. (Inv. #464)

Volume Two, Part III. London: F.S. Ellis, 1870. Second edition, 19 x 12.5cm (8vo), in publisher's dark green linen-texture cloth w/paper title-label to spine, [i-ii publ. adverts], [i-vi], [1] 2-526 [527-528] pp. w/titlepage wood engraving by the author after Edward Burne-Jones (repeated on p.[527]). Printed by Strangeways & Walden, London. Binding Good (head of spine chipped, rear cover dampstained, & lower corners bumped); contents Near-Fine. Vaughan 7. (Inv. #465)

Volume Three, Part IV. London: F.S. Ellis, 1870. First edition, 19 x 12.5cm (8vo), in publisher's dark green linen-texture cloth w/paper title-label to spine, a.e. untrimmed, [i-vi], [1] 2-442 [443-444], [1] 2-8 (publ. adverts) pp. w/titlepage wood engraving by the author after Edward Burne-Jones (repeated on p.[443]), + replacement titlepage & spine label for the 1st edition of Parts I & II ("for owners ... who might wish to render their set uniform in appearance" [Colbeck 12]) tipped in after p.[444]. Printed by Strangeways & Walden, London. Binding Very Good (spine label chipped, corner tips sl. worn, & ep.s a bit browned); contents Near-Fine. Slater 3 (Part IV),, Scott 3, Vaughan 7, Ehrsam & Deily 177, Fredeman 43.13, Colbeck 11. (Inv. #587)

C$600 The Set


Passages From Modern English Poets [1876]

Millais, John Everett, John Tenniel, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, et. al. (illus.), PASSAGES FROM MODERN ENGLISH POETS. ILLUSTRATED BY THE JUNIOR ETCHING CLUB (London: William Tegg, n.d. [1876]). First edition thus, 28 x 21cm (large 4to), in publisher's scarlet sand-grain cloth w/gilt title & embossed border designs to fr. cover (blind border design only to rear), gilt decorations & title to spine, a.e.g., pale salmon ep.s, [i-vi], [1-184] pp. (the 1st pp. of poetry & the plates are each numbered 1-45) w/frontis & 46 designs printed on cardstock illustrating poems by Byron, Coleridge, Tennyson, Wordsworth, et. al. Originally "issued by Day & Son in 1862," for this edition the "etchings [were] transferred to stone & printed as lithographs" (White p.152). Binding Very Good (spine a bit darkened, a few small stains to covers, corners sl. bumped & worn, & rear hinge cracked); contents Very Good (occas. lt.-to-moderate foxing). White 152-53 (a "notable volume"), Goldman p.327. (Inv. #767) C$900


Babies Classics'

MacDonald, Lilia Scott (chosen by), and Arthur Hughes (illus.), BABIES' CLASSICS (London: Longmans Green & Co., 1904). First edition, 27 x 19.5cm (4to), in publisher's slate blue linen w/gilt decorations & title to fr. cover & spine, 79 [xii] pp. w/frontis & numerous b&w illus. by Hughes. Printed by Ballantyne Hanson & Co., London. With bookseller's ticket of Bailey & Co., Darlington to fr. pastedown. Binding Very Good (lower corners bumped, & some toning to ep.s); contents Very Good (occas. lt. soiling). Fredeman 93.46, Shaberman 122, de Beaumont 188. (Inv. #833) C$150


Friday, August 19, 2011

GF Watts: Portraits Fame & Beauty in Victorian Society by Barbara Bryant

Emma Thompson’s Effie Finally Gets Under Way

Tony Award winner Derek Jacobi and West End actress Julie Walters have been cast in Emma Thompson's upcoming biopic, "Effie," according to Deadline.com.

"Effie," directed by Richard Laxton, is based on the life of Euphemia "Effie" Gray and set in 1850s London. After a loveless marriage to famed critic John Ruskin, Gray fell in love with Ruskin's protégé, painter John Everett Millais.

Screen actress Dakota Fanning ("I Am Sam," "Twilight") will star in the title role, and Greg Wise will play Ruskin. Walters and Jacobi have signed on to play Ruskin's parents, and Thompson will also appear in the film as Lady Eastlake, a friend of Gray's. Tom Sturridge has been cast as painter Millais.

Don Rosenfeld and Andreas Roald will produce the film that is set to begin production in October in Scotland, London and Venice.

Jacobi won the Tony Award in 1985 for his performance in Much Ado About Nothing and was nominated in 1988 for Breaking the Code. He has also appeared on Broadway in The Suicide, Cyrano de Bergerac and Uncle Vanya.

Walters has performed in the West End in Funny Peculiar, Educating Rita, Fool for Love and Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune, among others. She has been seen on screen in the movie-musical "Mamma Mia!" as well as the "Harry Potter" series.

Thompson won Academy Awards for "Howards End" (Best Actress in a Leading Role) and "Sense and Sensibility" (Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium). Her stage credits include Beyond the Footlights, Short Vehicle and Me and My Girl


Oscar Wilde bankrupt

I was reading the biography of Adolphe Joseph Thomas Monticelli who influenced van Gogh and my hero Edward Hornel. Anyway it had a quote about him by Oscar who after his bankruptcy after gong to prison wrote:

In a letter to Lord Alfred Douglas, "De Profundis": "That all my charming things were to be sold: my Burne-Jones drawings: my Whistler drawings: my Monticelli: my Simeon Solomons: my china: my Library..."

In fact when he died in Paris in November 1900 he was surrounded by 300 books.

"In Twenty Years in Paris (1905), Oscar Wilde’s first biographer, Robert Harborough Sherard, describes his visit to the Hôtel d'Alsace on the rue des Beaux-Arts, where Wilde had died in penury on November 30, 1900. In July 1904, Sherard discovered that the landlord, Jean Dupoirier, had left Wilde’s shabby bedroom much as it was when the disgraced author had passed away. As Sherard observes, he was hardly the only one wanting to peek inside the tawdry chamber, with “its soiled curtains of the colour of lees of wine”. Soon after Wilde’s death, Dupoirier made a small profit by turning the room into a site of pilgrimage. Not only could devotees inspect the “leathern case” containing the “Privaz syringe” that Dupoirier had used to inject Wilde with morphine. They could also view the “the two large trunks” in which were stored “the books which he had collected during his stay in the hotel”. “He was a great reader was Monsieur Melmoth”, Sherard recalls Dupoirier remarking of the debt-ridden guest who lived quietly under this imaginative alias. “One rarely saw him without a volume in his hand.” "




Julia Margaret Cameron - The Angel at the Sepulchre, 1869

John Frederick Lewis - The Coffee Bearer

The Coffee-Bearer 1857
John Frederick Lewis 1805-1876
Oil on panel

John Frederick Lewis lived in Cairo from 1841-51.
He adopted oriental robes and recorded life
in the crowded bazaars and in the harems.

When he returned to England he used
the material he had collected on his travels.

He was older than the Pre-Raphaelite artists
but shared their interest in natural light and colour.

Western artists often painted Middle Eastern subjects
but few people had travelled to the region in person.
By the middle of the nineteenth century, however,
new rail links made this possible
and there was a surge of interest in the East.


Art Sales: The treasure trove on the loch