Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Truth to Nature

Today I wanted to share with you a tongue-in-cheek artwork from a contemporary of the Pre-Raphaelites. I can't remember where I found this piece, so I apologize if it has been posted already. It is Henry Nelson O'Neil's The Pre-Raphaelite.

It has been on my mind recently because of the way that they have been showing the Brotherhood creating their paintings in the miniseries, Desperate Romantics. Not a single canvas has gone outdoors, not a single bit of painting has been done anywhere but in darkened rooms. And this painting is farcical parody for the same reason..it accuses the Pre-Raphaelites of claiming truth to nature while creating their masterpieces inside.

I'm not aware of how much of the art they created was actually done en plein air, and how much was done indoors, but I can say with some confidence that I think they went outside more often than the miniseries would indicate.


Robin said...

How cool! I've never seen this.

I agree; I think the original PRB painted en plein air a fair bit. I feel like I have read many a description of them battling the elements and so on, and of their travels to specific spots, like the Ruskin/Millais journey to Scotland (although I believe he finished up the sitting indoors)

Hermes said...

I just can't watch it any more - really annoys me.

In the early days I think Millais did and certainly Holman Hunt, but Rossetti seldom did. If I remember rightly he believed being true to nature was more important than freezing in the open air! Burne Jones seldom painted out of doors.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Great observation! Really, when you think about it, they had to have spent a lot of time outdoors to capture the lighting as they did. I hope all is well for you Grace! Anita

bolshiegirl said...

Hi there! I'm new to your blog and love it!
As a sometime lecturer in Victorian art, I can safely say that the Pre-Raphs did do a lot of their work outdoors. Millais painted the botanical background for Ophelia directly from nature, then inserted the figure (poor old Lizzie Siddall who almost froze to death in a bathtub full of water in his studio) at a later date.
There are a couple of really funny ink drawings/caricatures of members of the PRB being swept away by strong winds, falling into rivers etc., I'll see if I can dig them out!
The Pre-Raphs were one of the first artistic groups to take advantage of the new collapsible paint tubes that allowed the artist to venture further from the studio.
Sorry to write a thesis for you, just think it's all so interesting! So great to find another Pre-Raph obsessive.

helen said...

I have always loved the pre-raphaelites and the artists who popped up around them. I recently discovered Strudwick a student of Burne-Jones and I just bought a book of Evelyn de Morgan's paintings. Every year I find some new (to me)artists I can add to the growing list of favorites.