Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sleeping Beauty Holidays

It's always hard to focus on anything but family and the warm glow of the holidays around this time of the year, but I've finally gotten around to reading a book whose cover I've admired for years. The book is Orson Scott Card's Enchantment, and the cover, I feel, is a good example of Pre-Raphaelite-inspired art done right.

Sadly, I couldn't find an extremely large version of this image on the 'net, but the girl at the bottom of the picture is clearly inspired, with her flowing gown, by Millais' Ophelia. But the face and garment look more like a Waterhouse image of St Cecilia. The image of her sleeping in a meadow of autumn leaves is so dream-like, and the image of the floating damsel takes on a whole new meaning when surrounded by a different context.

The artist of this piece is Greg Spalenka, who apparently has done other covers I have admired.

And for the record, the book is excellent, and I'm almost finished with it.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

More on the Waterhouse exhibition

I don't know where the photos featured in this video are from, but I'd love to know!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Lady of Shalott Film

More images from The Lady of Shalott. This week filming was done on the tower scenes, and apparently it took them two days to warp up her loom. The attention to detail will be truly appreciated, however, by those of us who love the poem, the legend, and of course the art.

(Click images to see larger, especially the lovely tapestry she's working on)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

La Primavera and the Pre-Raphaelites

My husband and I have been enjoying the documentary series The Private Life of a Masterpiece. It's an excellent series for anyone who enjoys art and art history, or anyone who enjoys good educational television. The series is broken down into discs by era, and I was sad to find no Pre-Raphaelite art represented in the Victorian disc. But a few nights ago, we were watching the disc on Renaissance masterpieces, and the episode featuring Botticelli's La Primavera came up.

I found myself noticing that the composition of La Primavera was very like a Burne-Jones or a Walter Crane artwork
and also noticing that the flowers on Flora's gown looked very like the Daisy pattern created by William Morris.
And then next thing I knew, the documentary began speaking of the Pre-Raphaelites!

The documentary explained that in the mid-19th century, Boticelli's art was deemed too crude and sentimental for popular taste, until the Pre-Raphaelites came along.

I'll transcribe the documentary from here on. Please note that these opinions aren't necessarily my own, but I did find what the document said to be quite interesting.

The Pre-Raphaelites were fascinated by the uninhibited pagan art of ancient Greece and Rome, and by artists like Botticelli who had been influenced by it. Now that The Primavera was on display, they were able to study it closely. And they began to impose on it their own rather melancholy sensibilities. The Pre-Raphaelites picked up on this idea of sadness in Botticelli's paintings. The female figures seem burdened by their responsibilities...There is always this sense of forboding, or dread. That deathly dread was exactly what the Pre-Raphaelite artists were looking for. And it wasn't long before they were imitating Botticelli's style in their own work. In one of English art's most famous images, Millais' Ophelia, the flowers of Flora's dress and bouquet seem to have been transfigured into a scene of despair and death. The reliance upon Botticelli was something that really worried the commentators. They described work when it followed in Botticelli's footsteps as showing the human form looking sickly, looking ill, looking pale, looking death-like. More troubling still was a painting by the gay artist, Simeon Solomon, a response to the Primavera. It was entitled The Song of Spring. The composition was based very clearly and distinctively on Botticelli's La Primavera. In the center of the painting as a controlling agent, we get this female figure. Not with her hands out in blessing, but with her hands actually playing on the keyboard. There are two young women embracing, staring into space. And on the extreme left, instead of the figure of Mercury, you get a young man in knee breeches, carrying a branch of blossom. His painting takes on a kind of graciousness, a very strong sense of sadness. He sees in that sadness that abstraction of the figures, an expression of his sexuality, a kind of gay response to Botticelli. Simeon Solomon's painting drew attention to aspects of the Primavera that had perhaps always been there, but were too shocking to mention in polite Victorian society. It was no wonder that it was the Pre-Raphaelites who rediscovered Botticelli, because they seemed to intuit in him that strange apprehension of sexuality. The figure of Mercury in La Primavera is one of the most glamourous, indeed voluptuously homoerotic images in all of Renaissance art. There's great ambiguity about what Mercury is doing in the painting. I myself [critic interviewed] think he is looking for fruit, and there is a sexual innuendo in there. And the fact that he has turned his back to the lovely ladies behind him indicates that he is looking for forbidden fruit.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A Pre-Raphaelite Christmas

Apologies for the lateness of this post. I kept meaning to do it, and the holiday rush and bustle got in my way!

Without further ado, here's a list of some gift ideas for the Pre-Raphaelite aficionado in your life.

First, a pair of earrings from Etsy artist PersephonePlus. She has no earrings like this up right now, but I'm sure she'd make some if you requested. Her shop is closed very soon though for the holidays, so you'd have to hurry! What I admire about her earrings over others I've seen is that she reverses the image on the left and right earring. I much prefer this aesthetically to having the exact same image on both sides.
BabastudioPrague has been featured on this blog before, but I have to remind you about their wonderful screen-printed, professional quality bags:
If you want a serious, hardcore splurge for someone special, try purchasing a custom piece from Century Studios. These people are truly artisans, and they have done several famous Pre-Raphaelite artworks in stained glass to perfection! They also offer stained glass suncatchers at a lower price.
A few calendars of note available this year are
John William Waterhouse
William Morris wallpaper patterns
And a more general Pre-Raphaelite calendar:
I absolutely love the idea of this simplified screenprinted t-shirt of The Lady of Shalott. In fact, I keep meaning to contact the seller to see if she'd do one on a baby doll/fitted size shirt.
Of course the website I most recommend for those of you who want to buy art prints, or unique books for someone this year is Midnight Muse. Her art print section is unparalleled.

And I have to give a shout-out in this list to Jen of Parrish Relics. Though unless you purchase a pre-made item from her Thorn pages, I presume she would be unable to get your item done by Christmas, her custom jewelry is well worth any wait.
There is also of course the Waterhouse statue I featured a couple of blogs ago.

Another Waterhouse-related splurge would be a set of printed tiles, ready to be installed in a bathroom, kitchen, or any location:
How about a teapot covered with William Morris' daisy pattern, for those lovers of Morris and tea both?
Or perhaps a wall tapestry of Waterhouse's Ophelia
To inspire the next generation of Pre-Raphaelite aficionados (or if you just need a theraputic vent sometimes) try a Pre-Raphaelite coloring book

An artisan selling through Amazon has two lovely stained glass suncatchers available.

An Angel Praying by Morris:
And Ship of Souls by Burne-Jones:
Finally, try a handmade decorative bag or pillow with Pre-Raphaelite art from AmandaBethBoutique:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lady of from the set!

The Lady of Shalott, Lincolnshire-native, Victoria Rigby

Director Nick Loven planning shots from a rowboat.

Sir Lancelot, played by Jason Kingsley, surrounded by two lovely damsels.

The wordsmith himself, Tennyson, will be played by Ben Poole.

News has arrived from the set of The Lady of Shalott, a new film being made in Lincolnshire, Tennyson's birthplace.

The first exciting piece of news is that they have found their Tennyson! The production is a community effort, and Lincolnshire-native Ben Poole (last picture) will be playing the role of the famous Poet Laureate.

Next week, filming will be done in the Tower of Shalott, and, thanks to Pauline, I will hopefully have more exclusive images!

And another wonderful piece of news...the film will be available on DVD once it's completed!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Waterhouse Exhibit Video

This is a wonderful video about a Waterhouse exhibit that will be touring around for the next year or so. (sadly the closest it will get to me is Quebec, and I priced tickets already...too much)

Please click to view...there are some wonderful details in this video.

ETA: A full list of venues is here on one of my two favorite Waterhouse websites.