Saturday, September 27, 2008

Another Aesthetic Gowns Post

Yes, it's another post about Artistic/Aesthetic Gowns. Can you tell I love these things?

First, I have to share a resource brought to my attention by Siddal, I believe. There is an Aesthetic gown pattern out there for those of you who sew!
I may have to try this out someday. The price is a bit painful, but it's definitely a beautiful pattern.

Second, I'd like to share an absolutely gorgeous Aesthetic / Artistic Reform gown, made by jehanni, and worn for the masquerade dance at SalonCon.

In her words, "I modified the undergown from the La Mode Bagatelle Artistic Tea Gown--their illustrations are divine, and their patterns very inspiring.

I made fit changes for my bustline, and style changes for the sleeves, back lacing and modesty panel; finally I incorporated an under-bust drawstring to add support, and lacing loops in the side seams to attempt to control the velvet cording (on larger figures, I find even with lacing loops, the cording needs to be adjusted before poses!).

The overgown is only shaped by Lattice Smocking (or North American Smocking), so it's after the idea of the pattern, but not drafted from it. I added waist tabs to hold the overgown open on the sides."

Photo courtesy of padawansguide

Finally, the previously-featured Sarachmet, the talented-to-the-extreme photographer/artist on DeviantArt, has apparently recently made a few forays into the world of Aesthetic / Artistic gown-making as well!

Her gorgeous gowns can be found here. I did not want to steal her images, but I highly recommend you go take a look.

Finally, I'll be taking a short hiatus from this blog. But for a very good reason...in less than a week (Friday October 3rd) I'll be getting married! And then I'll be departing for our honeymoon. I expect to be back to posting sometime around October 13th.

I may just get a few posts out of the experience afterward though. We'll see. :)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Lady of Shalott and Pre-Raphaelite Women

The book I just finished reading, Pre-Raphaelite Art in the Victoria & Albert Museum, had an interesting quote. I'd love to know what everyone thinks of it.


All three artists, Burne-Jones, Rossetti and Sandys, were more interested in depicting their ideal of feminine beauty than exploring the characters of real women. By the mid-1860s, they had established a 'type', and sought models who would conform to this image. They may not have been reproducing the conventional prettiness of the Victorian Miss, nor the placid features of Raphael's Virgins, which the early PRB tried so hard to avoid, yet Rossetti's voluptuous allegories, and Burne-Jones' sensitive waifs, were figments of their imagination rather than studies from nature. The aspirations of the women who modeled for these paintings, or who created works of art in their own right, were often obscured by the image constructed by the male artist. The fate of the women of the Pre-Raphaelite circle can sometimes resemble that of the Lady of Shalott. In her own sphere she is a singer and a weaver, but when she becomes subject to the male gaze, her skills are overlooked. In Lancelot's eyes, she is significant only because 'She has a lovely face.'
-pg 133

I thought the parallel between the Pre-Raphaelite women and the Lady of Shalott was incredibly inspired.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Daniel Deronda

Stephanie, here's another one for your Pre-Raphaelite-sightings-in-movies project.

Tonight as I was enjoying the BBC miniseries, Daniel Deronda, I was delighted and enchanted to see that one of the characters, an artist smitten with a beautiful female houseguest, painted pictures of her in Rossetti's style. Thanks to Siddal for pointing out that this first painting was made to look like La Pia de Tolommei

Click the below images to see a much larger version...I love the colors in this painting...really lovely, especially for a prop from a made-for-tv programme.

This sketch behind him is clearly directly inspired by Rossetti's portrait of Janey, The Daydream:

The artist in his studio:If you click on the below picture to enlarge, you can see a small image over the artist's left shoulder that appears to be a Godward or an Alma-Tadema. Anyone care to identify the artwork? The Neo-classical artists aren't my forte.
Thanks to an anonymous comment for identifying this background painting. It is Blossoms by Albert Moore.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dante's Inferno

Thanks to the wonderful world of inter-library loan, I was able to get ahold of a copy of the 1969 Ken Russell biopic about the life of Rossetti, Dante's Inferno. The film is going to be included in a retrospective DVD set coming out on the 23rd, Ken Russell at the BBC, but the price was a bit steep for me for just one movie. So until the DVD comes out and someone takes better screencaps, I took some photos of the screen to share the VHS copy of this film with you. The quality is poor, but clicking on the photos to enlarge helps.

As for the film itself, it was remarkable. Portions of it were rather melodramatic, and several of the people acted in ways that seemed rather out-of-character, but still, the film visually was amazing. The actors were impeccably chosen to resemble their counterparts, and it was obvious that the team making the movie studied old photographs and paintings with great detail, as can be seen below. However, the movie was stolen, I thought, by the actress playing Lizzie, who looked SO much like Rossetti's Lizzie that at times I had goosebumps on my arms.

Also, the integration of the poetry written by the PRB was quite good...it was interesting to hear the words of these poets spoken in context during moments that might have inspired the words.

Anyway, the pictures...lots of them, since there were many great shots.

My favorite scene...the PRB at Red House (at the actual Red House it appears!!) relaxing on the lawn, and being their "normal" selves. In this scene, Christina Rossetti reads a poem about the PRB aloud to the group.

Janey and Topsy.
Lizzie and Rossetti
Topsy. Part of me wishes they had gone further into the genius of Morris, but it WAS a movie about Rossetti after all....
Huh...apparently William Morris painted Isolde life-size on the wall of the Debating Hall before he even met Janey ;) (in the movie at least)
A great shot of the actor playing Ruskin posing for the Millais portrait.
The actress playing Lizzie had the perfect eyes for the role...she had those "heavy lidded" eyes seen in so many sketches.





I love this moment....Janey posing for Rossetti at Kelmscott.
If I went into photoshop and made this look like pencil, this could truly be a Rossetti sketch of Lizzie. Remarkable!!!
The actress playing Janey. Janey was probably my biggest disappointment in the movie. She was played like a total femme fatale with no real depth.
Lizzie sips her fatal dosage
Rossetti is haunted by both of his muses

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Homosexuality and the Pre-Raphaelites

Now there's a topic that you don't see covered very often.

The Pre-Raphaelites were rebels, and contradicted the prevailing mode of Victorian art. Not only was this true in their method (painting on a wet canvas for vivid colors) and style (refusing to follow the triangle-structure for composition, etc), but it was also true for their subject matter. They painted a red-haired Jesus and a Mary with callouses on her hands. The woman on their canvas stared brazenly out at the viewer, daring him to cow or subdue her.

One accusation that was often slung at the Pre-Raphaelites was that they de-masculinized the men in their artworks. Male subjects of asexual grace, combined with overtly sexual and powerful female models threatened to "overturn the laws of nature." A close brotherhood of male camraderie was not unusual in Victorian times, but eyebrows were raised when Pre-Raphaelite associates like Swinburne wrote "obscene" sexual poems that included lines like "thou shalt darken his eyes with thy tresses, Our Lady of Pain."

Simeon Solomon was, however, to the best of our knowledge, the only gay Pre-Raphaelite. And sad as it may be to admit this of our Pre-Raphaelite heroes, they did not respond to his arrest for homosexual activities with support or friendship. Perhaps fearing that his incarceration would publicly seem to confirm the suspicions in the minds of society, most of the circle disowned him.

Even Swinburne, the "anything goes" lover of all things sexual called his activity "a thing unmentionable alike by men and women, as equally abhorrent to either." Georgie and Edward Burne-Jones, however, remained true friends to Simeon Solomon (and this makes me like them even more.) How sad it is that these gentlemen (and ladies) who embodied change, revolution, and truthfulness to self would reject one of their own. Especially when their own sexual activities, while resigned to the opposite sex, were far from the "standard" as well.

Solomon's sexual preference can be seen in several very moving renditions he drew and painted. His men always seem to have a wistful look in their eyes, and a gentle grace. The above artwork, The Bride, Bridegroom and Sad Love is probably his most overt statement regarding the lot of most gay men in Victorian times. The central figure is locked in an embrace with his bride (who is rather forcing his head toward her) but his hands are secretly entwined with his true beloved, behind him.

There is another relative of the Pre-Raphaelites who later found love and contentment in life with someone of the same sex. Although May Morris married, she found joy late in life with "a burly, crop-haired, knickerbocker-suited First World War land-girl called Mary Lobb." It has been difficult to find information on their relationship, and in fact I've only seen passing references in two sources, but it appears they were together until May Morris' death in 1938.


Thanks to the book Pre-Raphaelite Art in the Victoria and Albert Museum for some of the information above.