Monday, October 3, 2011

Florence Claxton - The Choice of Paris: An Idyll

Watercolour, heightened with gold paint and gun arabic

Florence Anne Claxton produced this watercolour as a satire on the work and ideas of the Pre-Raphaelites, a group of painters who were active between 1848 and 1853. It caused a sensation when it was exhibited at the Portland Gallery in London (where the Pre-Raphaelites themselves had exhibited), and it was reproduced as a full-page spread in The Illustrated London News, a high-circulation national weekly magazine. The satire is packed with references to members of the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood and their paintings. Here the artist John Everett Millais (1829-1896) plays the part of Paris choosing the most beautiful of the ‘Three Graces’. He is awarding the golden apple to an angular, medieval-style figure who represents the Pre-Raphaelite ideal. The 'truth-to-nature' concept that formed the basis of most Pre-Raphaelite art is parodied by the man examining the surface of the outside wall with opera glasses.

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