Based on the character from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia (1851–52) by Sir John Everett Millais (1829–96) exemplifies many of the values upheld by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Millais, along with Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt, formed the group in 1848 and propounded artistic principles that took their influence from the ideas of John Ruskin. The Pre-Raphaelites favoured vivid colour and detail, with a focus on and accurate depiction of nature. This piece, in all its haunting serenity, depicts the moments surrounding Ophelia’s death. The plants, among which Ophelia is shown held afloat, are loaded with symbolism and refer directly to the lines uttered by Queen Gertrude in the play. The Queen announces the news to Ophelia’s brother through an immensely poetic speech (Act 4 Scene vii), which effectively transforms Ophelia’s death into a scene of ethereal beauty. So vivid is the description that it seems already to describe a painting of the tragic event, and it has as such served as inspiration for several artworks, not just by Millais but also by John William Waterhouse, Arthur Hughes and Alexandre Cabanel.
Visual & Decorative Arts Blog
The clean, simple, pure forms of Neoclassicism arose as a counter movement to the frivolous Rococo style, particularly at a time when new discoveries from Pompeii were proving inspirational to artists. As a reaction against the Academies, however, the ideals of Romanticism – which favoured wilder, more emotional artworks – started to gain popularity. Offshoots of Romanticism began to appear throughout Europe, most notably in the work of the Nazarenes in Germany and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in England, who sought to take art back to a time before Raphael and his Classical influences had been a corrupting influence on art.
The Pre-Raphaelites were not afraid of social commentary in their work. From child labour to William Holman Hunt’s 1853 piece ‘The Awakening Conscience', which dealt with the problem of prostitution.
As proud suppliers of products to several London art galleries, we like to stay on top of what is going on around the country. As we inch toward the start of the new school term, there's still time to get out and see some incredible art. Perhaps you'll see something in this list to spur you on to an artistic outing.
In our last blog we looked at the conception of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, their artistic missions and subsequent fall from favour. Today we look at how the movement developed after this initial series of rebukes before enjoying a second phase, building upon its prior popularity right up to the modern day.
Recently a Pre-Raphaelite study was found, of all places, behind a door! Said door was within a 16th century manor house owned by Bamber Gascoigne, former University Challenge host.
The study's significance stems from its relationship to one of the most iconic Pre-Raphaelite images of all time, Flaming June. Recognised across the world, the original is hosted in the municipal art museum of Puerto Rico’s second biggest city, Ponce.
The Manchester Art Gallery is an invaluable publicly owned museum. It houses the civic art collection, which showcases local masterpieces of art along with international pieces, and it also invites proposals from artists, curators and members of the public. The mixture of pieces on display is not as expansive as the V&A’s, but they do feature a wide range of art, including fine and decorative, contemporary, historic, photography and costume. One of their main displays, however, focuses on the Pre-Raphaelites.