Saturday, January 30, 2010

Aurora - Edward Burne-Jones

"A small pocket-book of this time [1866] contains a note made by Edward from a canal-bridge in a poor quarter of the city, which nearly thirty years afterwards he developed into the background of his "Aurora." The main outlines of building and canal are preserved in the picture, and Aurora with her cymbals comes lightly stepping along a waterside path from which in the original sketch a woman stoops to bathe her baby, but the canal has changed into an arm of a river and the houses have been welded into the long, low storage-places of a wharf, crowned by a great church lifted up against the sky." - from Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones by Georgiana Burne-Jones

Aurora, 1896
Queensland Art Gallery

"Aurora, the Roman mythical personification of dawn, is here depicted barefoot and with cymbals to wake the sleeping city as a soft dawn light rises behind rooftops and distant trees. ... The face of Aurora in this work is an idealised portrait of Bessie Keene, one of the artist's models." - Link to Queensland Art Gallery note

Reframing Burne Jones 'Aurora' (1896) - an article from the Queensland Art Gallery (Link)

Edward Burne-Jones ~ Bessie Keene

Three drawings of Bessie Keene - studies for the head of the woman in Love Among the Ruins, 1893-94.
Courtesy Leicester Galleries

A wonderful article from ArtMagick prompted my searching today ... Love Among the Ruins ... a Burne-Jones painting in ruins: -Link-

Love Among the Ruins, 1893-94
Bearsted Collection, Wightwick Manor, Wolverhampton

Thursday, January 28, 2010

John William Waterhouse, Garden of Enchantment

Television spot from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts: -
Eight other videos filmed while the exhibit was at the Royal Academy of Arts in London featuring Peter Trippi discussing some of the works shown at the exhibition are found at the link above.

From the television spot:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

'Enchantment blooms at Waterhouse exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts'

By Margaret Smith
GateHouse News Service
Jan 27, 2010

Montreal —
"Imagine walking along a remote ocean or sea shore, as turquoise waves call you to some exotic, distant place.

More beckoning still is the sight of a mermaid combing out her long hair, her eyes looking afar, a gaze at once mysterious and inviting.

A viewer can easily imagine encountering such a scene for real in the painting, “A Mermaid,” by John William Waterhouse, the British artist who embraced scenes of a mythical past even as his contemporaries emphasized edgier images of the everyday world.

An exhibit of his paintings is on view in “John William Waterhouse, Garden of Enchantment,” at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, in the only scheduled North American stop of a tour of the paintings.

The exhibit – with paintings and artifacts on loan from The Tate Gallery in London, Leeds Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Ontario -- is the largest-ever retrospective of Waterhouse’s work, and the first international Waterhouse exhibit since 1978.

Among the exhibit’s features are all three of Waterhouse’s paintings depicting “The Lady of Shalott,” the young noblewoman whose love of Sir Lancelot ended in tragedy.

Visitors can learn more about Waterhouse’s life, times, and evolution of his style over his 50-year career, and gain greater understanding of his working methods.

At the same time, it’s a chance to be ensnared somewhere in a dream – perhaps in Cleopatra’s sun-caressed parlor, or in the florid garden of St. Cecilia, as angels greet the patron saint of music with a serenade of violins.

The paintings are arranged in a spacious and elegant walkthrough illuminated with soft lighting, and draped with dark curtains. Throughout are settings of flowers and ornate chairs, quietly echoing the assuring yet haunting worlds Waterhouse brought to life on canvas.

The exhibit puts Waterhouse into the context of the art world of his day, including the emerging schools such as Impressionism in which Waterhouse found formidable competitors.

“Waterhouse knew a great deal about what was going on in the (more technically progressive) art worlds of Paris and Brussels -- partly through British friends who had returned from studying and working there, partly through artworks sent from those cities for exhibition in London, and partly through illustrated magazines and other publications available in London,” said Waterhouse biographer Peter Trippi, exhibit curator, editor of “Fine Art Connoisseur,” and author of an article in the exhibit’s catalogue.

Trippi said, Waterhouse and his contemporaries were excited by new techniques and ideas espoused by the Impressionists.

Some observers also see hints of Impressionist influence in Waterhouse works such as one his three versions of “The Lady of Shalott,” in which water lilies dot the lake where the doomed young noblewoman has taken her boat.

Ultimately, however, Waterhouse retained his own identity, and this, many argue, is what has allowed his work to endure.

The magic touch

If viewers find themselves bewitched, it’s more than coincidental. Inspired by many sources – classical mythology, Biblical and early Christian stories, the poetry of Keats and Tennyson, Shakespearean plays, and British folklore – Waterhouse created numerous images of women, especially those with magical powers.

In “Medea and Jason,” the young witch Medea appears to create a potion while Jason watches. We know from the play by Euripedes that Jason betrays Medea, and that she wreaks a terrible revenge. But for the moment, he seems content to watch and perhaps even learn.

A starker image of magic is seen in “The Magic Circle,” where a witch casts a circle around herself and a cauldron emitting clouds of ether, as magical portents – including crows and a toad – watch from outside the circle’s perimeter.

“The Symbolist painters (of which Waterhouse was one) were deeply interested in the occult, and so it’s not surprising that Waterhouse was, too,” Trippi said.

Spiritualism and other forms of mysticism were popular among the upper classes, in part because of changing attitudes toward religion – including Darwin’s challenge to the literal view of the Bible’s creation stories.

While it’s unknown whether Waterhouse was a member of any of the occult and mystical societies that were prevalent, Trippi said, “Certainly in his works--right from 1884 through his death in 1917--we see continuous expressions of interest in the occult, magic, the supernatural, transformations from one shape to another (e.g., human to plant, animal to human).”

Feminine focus

As enchantresses, queens, victims of injustice, saints, martyrs, mythical creatures, or femmes fatales, Waterhouse painted women predominantly as his main subjects.

In his mature works, they are unfailingly vivid in their expressions of love, fear, longing, sorrow, or contemplation of the world and their role within it.

Sensuality and even seduction can prevail, in ways that are wholesome and innocent, but also signaling possible danger.

A docent guiding a tour group pointed out an exquisite portrait of Circe, another great sorceress of classical Greek tradition, and a prominent character in Homer’s “Odyssey.” She wields her powers without apology, and thinks nothing of turning Odysseus’ sailors into swine that cower at her feet.

She’s also known for her ability to lure men with her voluptuous beauty. The docent remarked that this is seen in the diaphanous and revealing gown she wears. But, one tour member suggests that another clue to Circe’s passions is in her eyes.

“Waterhouse's women have knowledge--the ability to both help and hinder men, who always appear as secondary figures in the compositions,” Trippi said.

One possible interpretation – far from being passive objects to be dandled by fate, the figures in the paintings are women of action. They are always possessed of their own ideas and feelings, and fully expressing them.

“Although we cannot be sure that Waterhouse was a feminist or supported the drive to secure women's right to vote, we can be sure that he admired women not just for their beauty and fertility, but also for their unique sets of knowledge and their closeness to nature," Trippi said.

He added, “Remember that most spiritualistic mediums (see above) were women, not men.”

Trippi observed that viewers in Waterhouse’s times were generally familiar with the stories he depicted, and likely looked at the paintings with their own understandings of the stories and characters.

Waterhouse has long had a popular following, and one doesn’t have to be an art authority to enjoy his work. But in recent years, there is a growing understanding and respect for Waterhouse’s technique among artists and art historians.

Trippi said, “We are seeing a groundswell of admiration of Waterhouse's technical excellence (brushstrokes, coloring, glazing) thanks to this traveling exhibition. Photos of his art are lovely and colorful, but nothing prepares you for the rich, almost voluptuous, experience of seeing these masterworks properly lit and framed.”

And little compares to the fantastical yet unexpectedly personal and familiar realms into which Waterhouse invites his viewers, places that are spellbinding, unsettling, and compelling as any siren’s song."
- Margaret Smith, GateHouse News Service

1. A Mermaid, 1900
2. The Lady of Shalott, 1888
3. The Lady of Shalott, 1894
4. Cleopatra, 1888
5. St Cecilia, 1895
6. Jason and Medea, 1907
7. Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses, 1891
8. Circe Invidiosa: Circe Poisoning the Sea, 1892
9. Lamia, 1909
10. Nymphs Finding the Head of Orpheus, 1900

The exhibit, John William Waterhouse, Garden of Enchantment, will be at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts through 7 February, 2010.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Thornbridge Hall window ~ Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris

"... In 1871 Sleigh sold the Hall and 185 acres (about 77 hectares) of land to Frederick Craven who commissioned the architect J B Mitchell-Withers to rebuild the Hall in the Jacobean style, with stained-glass windows by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones." - Parks and Garden UK

Pygmalion and the Image - The Soul Attains by Edward Burne-Jones was part of the Frederick Craven Collection. Another work in his collection was Night. (I believe now part of the Lloyd Webber Collection.)

Photo courtesy White Beer Travels
The current owner of Thornbridge Hall
is the proprietor of Thornbridge Brewerey.

Edward Burne-Jones - Morris & Co. ~ Constance & Dorigen

Stained Glass Panel
Chaucer's 'Legend of Good Women'

Birmingham Museums and Art Galleries
"This panel seems to have been made as part
of a series for Birket Foster's house,
the Hill, in Witley, Surrey."


Pencil drawings and stained glass cartoons
Chaucer's Legend of Good Women

Stained Glass Panel
Chaucer's 'Legend of Good Women'


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Edward Burne-Jones - William Morris ~ Thornbridge Hall Window (Derbyshire)

Thornbridge Hall Window
(Photo courtesy Nottinghamshire Notes)

"In the top tier the 4 roundels were designed by Burne-Jones in 1862, depicted Griselda, Dorigen, Constance & Cressida.
[another version shown in Monday's blog entry above - link]
The second tier depicts minstrels ... designed by William Morris.
The bottom tier, again by Burne-Jones in 1878 depict
Luna, Earth, Morning Star and Evening Star."

- Nottinghamshire Notes
Thornbridge Hall

Edward Burne-Jones - William Morris & Co. ~ Beautiful stained glass

Morning Star

Evening Star


Details of three of the five Morris & Co. panels
featured in the March 2008 Sotheby's sale,
The Jimmy Page Collection.

"... the windows [were] made for [Angus] Holden at Woodlands in 1879. ... Nine panels were originally designed by Burne-Jones for Woodlands: `Venus', `Evening Star',` Saturn', `Jupiter', `Luna', `Earth',` Sol', `Morning Star' and `Mars'."
-Catalogue Notes-


(click on image for larger picture)
Two panels, (Sol and Mars)
were part of the Gabreal Franklin Collection in 2009.
(I'm not sure if they currently are still there.)
The others were with Jimmy Page until 2008.
The panels Earth and Saturn were unlocated in 2009.
(Photo courtesy the Franklin Collection)

Friday, January 22, 2010

William Morris and 'The Beauty of Life' - from the blog, 'Venetian Red'

Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, 1890
photo:William Morris Gallery, London

Photographs included in the interesting blog entry,
Eminent Victorian: William Morris and 'The Beauty of Life'
written by Christine Cariati.
- Link -

Drawing Room, Kelmscott Manor
(Click on image for a larger picture.)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Maxwell Armfield (British, 1881-1972)

Biography from ArtMagick

1. Faustine, 1904 (Musee d'Orsay)
2. The Young Queen and the Page, 1904

More lovely images from A Polar Bear's Tale: -Link-

'An Important Lost Carpet for 1 Holland Park, circa 1883' - Morris & Co

The beautiful pattern of a carpet that was listed as Lot 11 in a 2007 auction at Bonhams.

Catalogue notes:
Morris & Co.
An Important Lost Carpet for 1 Holland Park, circa 1883.
The royal blue field with central cream floral motif and all over scrolling vine and flowerhead pattern in cream and sky blue, enclosed by a scrolling leaf border with a flowing strawberry red vine and forest green tendrils with large leaves in sky and royal blue.
508cm x 131cm

I'm not sure if this is the same one mentioned in a recent posting on the blog, News from Anywhere (the blog of the William Morris Society) ... but, they are the same dimensions. The title of the blog entry is, The Lost William Morris Carpet of Holland Park is For Sale.

Information about 1 Holland Park from the blog entry:
"Alexander Ionides, the Greek Consul-General in London commissioned Phillip Webb and William Morris to transform his magnificent house, No. 1 Holland Park (now the Greek Embassy) into a showpiece of the decorative talents of William Morris and his circle. In the photograph of the Marble Hall (from the Studio, 1897) a magnificent Morris and Co. carpet may be seen. Ionides and Morris had a shared interest in Middle Eastern design, and Morris and Co bought dyes used for dying carpets from Ionides & Co., the family's textile firm.

Ionides's son, Alexander Ionides, inherited the house, which was sold ten years later by his widow to the trustees for the sixth Earl of Ilchester. After damage by incendiary bombs in World War II the property passed to London County Council in 1952. When the council decided to demolish what remained of the house in 1953 nothing of value was found in the interior.

Of the original furnishings in the house, a piano designed by Burne-Jones, a Morris carpet, and a tapestry designed by William Morris, Philip Webb and J. H. Dearle, are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. ... A second Morris and Co. carpet, bought from Bonhams, London a number of years ago and listed in Malcolm Haslam's book, Arts and Crafts Carpets (1991), is currently for sale. It dates from ca. 1883 and measures 508 x 131 cm. For a private viewing in the Holland Park area contact Dominic Woods,"
(Update ... later today Grace posted a wonderful blog entry about her visit to the exhibit, Imperishable Beauty. She shares some lovely photos, including some showing the fantastic Morris & Co textiles she saw at the exhibit. -Link- )

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ashmolean Museum, Oxford - Anthony Frederick Sandys and Pio Fedi

I love this photograph taken by Martin Beek at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. In the background you can see the painting Gentle Spring (1865) by Anthony Frederick Sandys. The marble sculpture, Pia de'Tolomei e Nello della Pietra or Il sospetto (The suspicion) is the work of Pio Fedi, 1816-1892.
(Be sure to click on the image or the first link above to better see the delicate work of the gown.)

From the catalogue notes for another version of the sculpture: "This delicate group has an intricate, patterned surface which recalls Pio Fedi's early training as a goldsmith and engraver. The subject is taken from a verse in Dante's Purgatorio mourning the fate of 'La Pia'. ..."


Anthony Frederick Sandys, 1829-1904
Gentle Spring, 1865

"The landscape is painted with a Pre-Raphaelite truthfulness, but the figure is inspired by Greek or Roman statuary." - Jon Whiteley via ArtMagick

Wonderful details 1 and 2 above courtesy Martin Beek.

More from Martin -
The Ashmolean Museum
The New Ashmolean Museum
Oxford in Winter

James Wyatt - an early patron of John Everett Millais

James Wyatt and his Granddaughter Mary

More paintings of the Wyatt family by Millais.

"John Everett Millais (1829-1896) was one of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the first artistic link between Oxford and the Pre-Raphaelites. … Arriving in Oxford in 1846, Millais met his first patron, the art dealer and framer James Wyatt (1774-1853), who provided him with studio space in the High Street and commissioned portraits of himself and his family. Wyatt’s support gave Oxford an important place in Millais’s early Pre-Raphaelite work. The artist often painted in the open air using the landscape of Oxford, the woodlands of Botley and Shotover, in the backgrounds of his pictures."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sir John Everett Millais - The Return of the Dove to the Ark

Earlier today ArtMagick shared a link to the Ashmolean Museum website's news concerning The Return of the Dove to the Ark by Sir John Everett Millais. The painting was selected by the Oxford based museum as part of the BBC's new series,
A History of the World.

This is a new partnership between the BBC, the British Museum and other museums and institutions across the UK -
BBC - A History of the World.

Photograph above courtesy Martin Beek.
It was taken in 2008 at the Ashmolean Museum.
Millais's portrait of Thomas Combe is seen to the left in the photograph.

Thomas Combe

Many of the Pre-Raphaelite pictures at the Ashmolean Museum
come from the collection of Thomas Combe and his wife,
important early patrons of the movement.

"Thomas Combe (1796-1872), a senior partner in Oxford University Press from 1851 until his death, was a close friend of Millais, who advised him on the formation of his collection. After Thomas Combe's death, his widow Martha acquired further works by the Pre-Raphaelites, and bequeathed the whole collection to the Ashmolean in 1893."

An interesting article, Jericho and the Pre-Raphaelites:
"Few people are aware that the area of Oxford known as Jericho has a number of striking connections with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood ... " continued here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Lady of Shalott - William Holman Hunt

(second photo courtesy Minneapolis Institute of Arts)

Glimpses of the Holman Hunt exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario (2009)

Video Tour of the exhibit, Sin and Salvation: Holman Hunt and the Pre-Raphaelite Vision (April 2009) - Art Gallery of Ontario.
(Link to video on YouTube)

You can see a few of Holman Hunt's studio costumes in the display cases.

Photographs and video courtesy "Listen Up TV".

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Holman Hunt and the Pre-Raphaelite Vision (2008-2009 exhibition)

(Information about the exhibition catalogue.)
The exhibit was presented at three venues.
Each website still has information about the exhibition.

Manchester Art Gallery (11 October 2008 - 11 January 2009)

The three versions of Hunt's The Light of the World were shown.
Glimpses of them can be seen in this 2008 BBC report about the exhibit. Thoughts about the exhibition are also shared by
Muslim, Jewish and Christian families.


Art Gallery of Ontario (Feb 14 - May 10, 2009)

Holman Hunt: Pre-Raphaelite Passion (Audio)
"This talk by Holman Hunt scholar Carol Jacobi presents the artist’s life and inspirations as well as the development of his approach to art."

Holman Hunt: “Branding” a Vision (Audio)
Presented by Brenda Rix, assistant curator of Prints and Drawings at the AGO.


Minneapolis Institute of Arts (June 14 to Sept. 6, 2009)
The link above leads to these short preview sections:
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
Love and Pain: Hunt’s Private Life
William Holman Hunt, 1827–1910
Hunt in the Middle East
Hunt and the Holy Land
Light of the World: Spreading the Word
The Lady of Shalott

Link to the Institute's webpage featuring a
slideshow presentation about the exhibit.

Information from the Exhibition Listings section at ArtMagick.

William Holman Hunt

1. The School-Girl's Hymn, 1859
2. Study of Firelight, circa 1861-62
("...The girl portrayed is probably the artist's sister Emily ..." - ArtMagick
3. Tuscan Girl, 1868-69
'About the artwork' - Lady Lever Art Gallery
4. Amaryllis, 1884


Sunday, January 3, 2010

William Holman Hunt and his son Cyril

William Holman Hunt and His Son Cyril
courtesy The Victorian Web

courtesy the Rossetti Archive

Cyril Benoni Holman Hunt, 1880
courtesy The Fitzwilliam Museum

Photograph of Cyril (1887) - National Portrait Gallery