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" the flawed, bonkers and brilliant" Pre-Raphaelites
September 11, 2012 12:48 PM   Subscribe

A new exhibit on the sometimes maligned, but often adored, Pre-Raphaelite painters is at the Tate Britain. "You get the impression, in this exhibition, that the Pre-Raphaelites had a good time because they were the only Victorian men who recognised women as sexual beings" previously
posted by Isadorady (41 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm glad that when I went to the Tate for the first time and saw Ophelia I was too much of a bumpkin to know that the Pre-Raphaelites were maligned because I wouldn't have my reaction to seeing that in person for the first time tainted for anything.

(Okay, let's be honest -- 17 years later and still pretty much an art history bumpkin.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:56 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Wait... Women ARE sexual beings?

...This explains SO MUCH.
posted by delfin at 1:02 PM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Plz bring this exhibit to the US ASAP thanks. I don't care if I'm a bumpkin; I love the Pre-Raphaelites.
posted by immlass at 1:03 PM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I haven't seen the exhibit, but have seen other pre-Raphaelite exhibits recently, and generally like just about everything you can slap that label on, so that's where I'm coming from; but this article has no direction and made no sense whatsoever. I had a comment written up addressing its many flaws, but have just thrown up my hands and deleted it. I hope the article doesn't dissuade anyone from checking out the exhibit.
posted by resurrexit at 1:03 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Plus, they liked freckles and redheads.....
posted by C.A.S. at 1:06 PM on September 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


I love the PRB paintings, but their view of women's sexual agency seems very different to me than it does to the writer of that article.

Also, the PRB was the opposite of steampunk, give that they were Victorians playing at being late medievals.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:20 PM on September 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


it was also tied up into the Arts and Crafts/Werkstate movement, which was a reaction against mechanization and mass production.
posted by The Whelk at 1:22 PM on September 11, 2012


You know, ever since finding out that Dante Gabriel Rossetti had Lizzie Siddal's grave exhumed because he changed his mind about burying his poems with her (which is not creepy at all), I have a hard time looking at the paintings where she's the model without thinking about her as Zombie Siddal. The eyewitness reports that her hair had continued to grow and fill the coffin make the image even more morbid and reminds me of how Victorians seemed to get sex and death confused just as much as, if not more so, than any modern Twihard.
posted by Lectrolamb at 1:28 PM on September 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Pre-Raphaelites defined via Wikipedia.


Out Art Bumpkins all y'all by not having a clue who they were.
posted by Atreides at 1:28 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have no idea what to make of that article. No idea.

But I loves me some PRB, I does. Especially this spellbinding number in Toledo. It's the whole movement in one painting.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:33 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you can, find the BBC drama Desperate Romantics which focuses on the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood. It's FUN!
posted by merocet at 1:34 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


The eyewitness reports that her hair had continued to grow

Eyewitnesses say the craziest things.
posted by yoink at 1:39 PM on September 11, 2012


Did anyone catch this exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco? It featured more interior furnishings than I was expecting, even wallpapers, etc., and it was completely awesome--they had some of the pieces that are in the backgrounds of various paintings.
posted by resurrexit at 1:40 PM on September 11, 2012


What I don't get is how did they know that they were Pre-Raphaelites?
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:40 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you can, find the BBC drama Desperate Romantics which focuses on the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood. It's FUN!

Any idea where I can watch that? I'd pay to see it.
posted by resurrexit at 1:42 PM on September 11, 2012


Eyewitnesses say the craziest things.

It's even crazier when (as I remember it), the description emphasized how beautiful she was, all pale skin and flowing hair. Of course, the poems themselves were somewhat worm-eaten, so I can't imagine she looked that good.
posted by Lectrolamb at 1:44 PM on September 11, 2012


/forms Hellfire Club to perform decadent and deviant rites such as Karaoke performances of the works of Sir Mix-a-Lot.
posted by Artw at 1:45 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


resurrexit, looks like it's available to stream or buy from Amazon.
posted by merocet at 1:46 PM on September 11, 2012


Any idea where I can watch that? I'd pay to see it.

Nowt so easy.
posted by mykescipark at 1:47 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


any idea where I can watch that? I'd pay to see it.
I love Desperate Romantics. You can buy it on Amazon and it is on Netflix
posted by Isadorady at 1:50 PM on September 11, 2012


I saw the San Francisco show, twice. And around the same time we got to see the actual Peacock room at the Freer, for the full effect (the SF show had a room with nice but incomplete rendering of it).

It was phenomenal. I could have gone ten more times. And I know nurture a totally inappropriate cross-time crush on Louise Jopling (at least as painted by Millais).
posted by feckless at 1:55 PM on September 11, 2012


If you are near Delaware, the Delaware Art Museum has the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art outside of Britain. Looks like they loaned some works for the Tate show. I wondered where Lady Lilith went when I was there recently.
posted by interplanetjanet at 1:57 PM on September 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


And this is a mostly truthful article with PRB info. The author of this blog also wrote a recently re released biography of one of the PRB "stunners", Fanny Cornforth, aptly called "Stunner".
posted by Isadorady at 1:58 PM on September 11, 2012


The pre-raphelite canon is, by and large, worthy, rich, and beautiful. It stands on its own merits; no faint praises, undercut by minced accusations of prurience and naivete, need be made on their behalf. The full measure of artistic commendation is no less than the school deserves.
posted by clarknova at 2:00 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does this share items from the HUGE Loyd Webber collection? I saw that in London and it was fantastic. (Apparently the mid century, right before the hippies rediscovered them, was a great time to pick up Pre-Rapheilite works on the super cheap.)
posted by The Whelk at 2:02 PM on September 11, 2012


Did anyone catch this exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco?

Yes, a terrific show. And apparently I'm stalking feckless because I was also in the Peacock room at the Freer not long before.
posted by yoink at 2:03 PM on September 11, 2012


Oh and while I have a great deal of admiration and respect for the canon, this is still one of the most ridiculous things ever painted.
posted by The Whelk at 2:03 PM on September 11, 2012 [7 favorites]



What I don't get is how did they know that they were Pre-Raphaelites?

They where trying to evoke the colors and painting styles of the artists before Raphael, bright jewel-like color and hard edges, "flat" depth of field and lots of detail and graceful figures.
posted by The Whelk at 2:06 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you are near Delaware, the Delaware Art Museum has the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art outside of Britain.

Cheers! It amazed me that I could stand there, so close to those gorgeous paintings, and what a fabulous collection!
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:10 PM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


this is still one of the most ridiculous things ever painted.

It's better with the original caption: "I say Cecily! That's a bit ripe, what?"
posted by yoink at 2:13 PM on September 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


The Scapegoat, referenced in the article, was quite an eyeopener to me. I associate these guys with a kind of ugly portraiture. But this is entirely psychotic in an exciting way.
posted by stonepharisee at 2:23 PM on September 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Scapegoat

There's quite a lot of Caspar David Friedrich in that landscape. Interesting--that's not a connection I've thought about before.
posted by yoink at 2:27 PM on September 11, 2012


Nthing the recommendation to watch Desperate Romantics. It's soapy and frothy but very good fun. I had it from Netflix.
posted by immlass at 2:33 PM on September 11, 2012


Be sure to pair that Scapegoat piece with a healthy dose of Leviticus 16 if you haven't already.
posted by resurrexit at 2:35 PM on September 11, 2012


Also, Rossetti owned a wombat.

A significant portion of his Wikipedia entry is dedicated to said wombat.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:14 PM on September 11, 2012 [5 favorites]



"'I never reared a young wombat
To glad me with his pin-hole eye,
But when he was most sweet and fat
And tail-less he was sure to die'"
- Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1869
posted by ChuraChura at 6:18 PM on September 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Jane Burden = eponysterical!
posted by newdaddy at 6:37 PM on September 11, 2012


Okay-one more link to a Guardian Audio Art Tour of a sampling of pictures at the Tate Britain show.
I actually had written a longer OP about the Pre-Raphaelites , but checked out older posts which were negative about the PRB and held back. Guess tastes can change on the Blue.
posted by Isadorady at 7:47 PM on September 11, 2012


Was the PRB the first art school to define itself in advance, with a manifesto, rather than being defined retrospectively, by art critics?
posted by Segundus at 1:04 AM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Segundus—I don’t think they were the very first: the Italian Purismo movement’s manifesto was issued in 1842/3. Both they and the PRB were inspired by the Lukasbund (aka the Nazarenes: ‘the first effective anti-academic movement in European painting’), who certainly had a distinctive ethos but not, as far as I know, a written manifesto.
posted by misteraitch at 5:53 AM on September 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sidhedevil: I love the PRB paintings, but their view of women's sexual agency seems very different to me than it does to the writer of that article.
In what way? Certainly the PRB regarded women as sensual, lustful creatures, as much as they viewed men that way - and in that sense, certainly exceeded the "cleansed" and classical approach.
Also, the PRB was the opposite of steampunk, give that they were Victorians playing at being late medievals.
Again, I disagree. They were playing at a faux-historical, romanticized period. One that had as much to do with the courts of the Plantagenet kings as steam-powered guns and brass-bedecked blimps have to do with Victorian technology.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:30 PM on September 12, 2012


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