Saturday, September 28, 2013

Boyce, Rossetti and Millais

Millais's sensual 1857 portrait of his sister-in-law Sophy Gray at 13 was quickly sold to George Price Boyce and never displayed in public till after Millais' death. Boyce then commissioned Rossetti to paint Fanny Cornforth as a pendant to the Sophy picture. The title means Kissed Mouth and Holman Hunt considered it scandalous with a 'gross sensuality'. Sophy and Fanny were hung together in Boyce's house

Our Lady of Peace- Evelyn de Morgan

The Angel of Death- Evelyn de Morgan

The P\assing of the Soul-Evelyn de Morgan

Friday, September 27, 2013

Henry Wallis, Chatterton

Chatterton is Wallis’s earliest and most famous work. The picture created a sensation when it was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1856, accompanied by the following quotation from Marlowe:
Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight
And burned is Apollo’s laurel bough.
Ruskin described the work in his Academy Notes as ‘faultless and wonderful’.
Thomas Chatterton (1752-70) was an 18th Century poet, a Romantic figure whose melancholy temperament and early suicide captured the imagination of numerous artists and writers. He is best known for a collection of poems, written in the name of Thomas Rowley, a 15th Century monk, which he copied onto parchment and passed off as mediaeval manuscripts. Having abandoned his first job working in a scrivener’s office he struggled to earn a living as a poet. In June 1770 he moved to an attic room at 39 Brooke Street, where he lived on the verge of starvation until, in August of that year, at the age of only seventeen, he poisoned himself with arsenic. Condemned in his lifetime as a forger by influential figures such as the writer Horace Walpole (1717-97), he was later elevated to the status of tragic hero by the French poet Alfred de Vigny (1797-1863).
Wallis may have intended the picture as a criticism of society’s treatment of artists, since his next picture of note, The Stonebreaker (1858, Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery), is one of the most forceful examples of social realism in Pre-Raphaelite art. The painting alludes to the idea of the artist as a martyr of society through the Christ-like pose and the torn sheets of poetry on the floor. The pale light of dawn shines through the casement window, illuminating the poet’s serene features and livid flesh. The harsh lighting, vibrant colours and lifeless hand and arm increase the emotional impact of the scene. A phial of poison on the floor indicates the method of suicide. Following the Pre-Raphaelite credo of truth to nature, Wallis has attempted to recreate the same attic room in Gray’s Inn where Chatterton had killed himself. The model for the figure was the novelist George Meredith (1828-1909), then aged about 28. Two years later Wallis eloped with Meredith’s wife, a daughter of the novelist Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866).

Elaine Henry Wallis

Saturday, September 21, 2013

David Wilkie Wynfield, Simeon Solomon, c. 1870

Wynfield inveigled his artistic friends into wearing costumes expressive of their personalities. Solomon was the only Jewish Pre-Raphaelite: in this he probably seemed exotic to Wynfield and the wayward strain in Solomon’s personality would have made him seem even more so.
—Michael Bartram, 1985

Autumn - Simeon Solomon

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Wednesday, September 11, 2013