Pre- Raphaelite fans will be delighted with the art world’s latest find. It’s a previously unseen drawing by Dante Gabriel Rossetti of William Morris’s wife Jane. The drawing which has been in a private collection shall go on display in January next year. It is a full-scale pastel drawing called Mnemosyne. The actual painting is on display in the Delaware Art Museum. The drawing will be shown at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. Jane Morris‘s beauty came to typify the Pre -Raphaelite idea of classical beauty. Morris and Elizabeth Siddal are immortalised in their art.
Much has been wrote about the Pre- Raphaelite brotherhood which were founded in 1848 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais. The brotherhood consisted of critics, poets and painters. William Michael Rossetti (brother to Gabriel) James Collinson, Frederick George Stephens, and Thomas Woolner made up the seven original members – other artists were added later. The Pre -Raphaelites believed that the classical poses and compositions of Raphael in particular had a corrupting influence on academic art teaching. Joshua Reynolds, (whom they nicknamed ‘Sloshua’) came in for some criticism for his painting technique which the Pre -Raphaelites considered ‘sloppy and formulaic form of academic Mannerism’. They wished to return art to use of abundant detail and rich bright colours seen in Quattrocento Italian and Flemish art.
The Brotherhood’s early doctrines were expressed in four declarations:
- to have genuine ideas to express;
- to study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them;
- to sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parodying and learned by rote;
- and, most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues
One of my favorite Pre -Raphaelites is John William Waterhouse,a later Pre- Raphaelite. I have included him here, to take the place of non painter William Micheal Rossetti.
The critic and champion of the P.R. was John Ruskin and although an exquisite draftsman, but I haven’t included him this time. I have however, included Ford Maddox Brown instead of Frederick George Stephens, as Stephens was the Pre- Raphaelites promoter, rather than artist.
Thomas Woolner is also ommitted as he was a sculptor rather than painter. He has been replaced byEdward Burne-Jones.
The Pre- Raphaelites were no strangers to scandal and Millais painting of the Virgin Mary (Christ in the House of his Parents) in 1850 came in for severe criticism by the writer Charles Dickens;-
“According to Dickens, Millais made the Holy Family look like alcoholics and slum-dwellers, adopting contorted and absurd “medieval” poses’.”
Dickens of course had a lot to say about most things and for the most part said it well. But here is an opportunity for you to have your say in my ‘What the Dickens?’ poetry challenge over on Bookstains – just click Dickens for details:-)
More about this Pre Raphaelite painting here More on the Pre- Raphaelites here Images;- Millais here Holman Hunt here Collinson image here Burne-Jones image here John William Waterhouse image from here – Thanks to all!