Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Pre-Raphaelites

Espaliered trees in the Bower Garden
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

D.G.Rossetti (1828-1882)

The Rose leaf (Portrait of Jane Morris) 1870
A major exhibition of artworks by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood has just opened at the Art Gallery of New South Wales on loan from Birmingham City Art Gallery and Museum:
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, founded in 1848, lasted only five years but its style, popularity and influence on art and design has remained consistent in the ensuing years.Their inspiration, helped along by one John Ruskin, was found in medieval simplicity and purity which they considered had been lost in the pagan luxury of High Renaissance art courtesy of Raphael. The proclaimed leader of the group was Dante Gabriel Rossetti who portrayed women rebelling against Victorian convention and showed them with unpinned hair and unstructured medieval gowns flowing with lyrical freedom. His main squeeze was one Elizabeth Siddal, a melancholic consumptive who died of a laudanum overdose soon after they were married.
Gardens ,trees, and flowers especially thorn laden roses or poisonous foxgloves are an integral part of Pre Raphaelite artworks. The works themselves often avoid pictorial focus such as on the human figure, so the eye is able to wander over the often brilliantly coloured flowers and blades of grass shown in microscopic detail. Ophelia (1852) and The Blind Girl (1856) by John Everett Millais spring to mind as good examples of this exquisite detailing in their landscape painting.
I look forward to checking out this exhibition soon.

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