Friday, May 30, 2008

Tag Galaxy

My fiance introduced me to a great resource tonight. Tag Galaxy. Not only is it just really pretty neat to watch the visual graphics for the search results, but it works! Start out by typing in a key word you want to search Flickr for. The result comes up as a large 'globe' with other worlds circling around it showing you additional words that are often associated with the first word. Of course, the example I had to try was "Pre-Raphaelite," and some of the associated words were art, stained glass, etc. Clicking on the main globe for all Pre-Raphaelite results brings you to a larger globe composed of small versions of all the image results. Clicking on each image result makes it larger, and clicking on the larger image gives you information on it, and a link to the Flickr page to see the person's album.

The search for "Pre-Raphaelite" actually had so many results, there are numerous "globes" of images to look through. But it's a quick and easy way to see what catches your eye. How brilliant!

A few things I came across just by looking at the first globe of images....

A set of photos taken for an art project recreating Pre-Raphaelite artworks

This gorgeous digital art piece by Solitaire Miles

A beautiful interpretation of Ophelia.

The above sketch by Millais of his family is part of a wonderful photo pool devoted to him.

I can tell I'll be searching these images for a while!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Golden Age Illustrators

I'd like to call your attention to a website I found the other day, featuring amazing galleries of illustrations from the biggest names of the Golden Age of illustrators. I've been searching through the galleries for days now, and still finding new amazing treasures.

Ironically, considering the recent conversation about today's illustrators borrowing from the past, I found illustrations in the albums that are highly reminiscent of art by Kinuko Craft and Brian Froud both. These artists really must know their classic illustrators well!

In the albums too are collections of illustrations from books by William Morris and Christina Rossetti.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Titania - Part I of the Medisaga

I am proud to have such talented friends! My friend Lisa Stock, (who, with Connie Toebe, created the brilliant online interactive short story experience, Through the Cobweb Forest) is currently working on a beautiful independent film, Titania - Part I of the Medisaga. She has posted a behind-the-scenes update on the film's progress that is quite exciting to see. Click here to watch it.

And to tie this in to the Pre-Raphaelites, remember that they did often use Shakespearean/Faerie motifs. Not to mention the visuals in this film look to me to be truly inspired by the classic romantics themselves.

Can't wait to see this progress!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Paint Everything!

Recently I've been venturing on a new quest. Through my research and blog-writing on the Pre-Raphaelites, one of the things that has struck me the most is how this group of gifted young men (and women!) were really simply a group of friends with a common romantic sensibility who got together and enthusiastically and fearlessly painted every surface they saw. The image of these bohemian gents and ladies running around Red House painting walls, furniture, ceilings, floors...everything....was a vivid one, and I was inspired by it.

So I decided to try a project for a friend's birthday. I started with a wooden box, and decided to try my hand at painting it. Soon after I made this resolution, I came across a book on Amazon that I would highly recommend to anyone going on a similar venture to paint their world like the Pre-Raphaelites did (aka, leave no surface untouched). It's called Mediaeval Folk in Painting and it's all about painting wooden surfaces (boxes, clock fronts, etc) with medieval figures. The figures are more straight-up medieval (with the flat look to them) than the Pre-Raphaelites (who took such imagery and medieval myths and made them more realistic looking), but it's a great launching point for creative juices, and general tips.

Anyway, I was thrilled with how my project turned out, and ....I just opened a shop on Etsy (yeah, this is the shameless self-promotion part). I'd love to try my hand at more painted boxes, and expand to other furniture and house accessories. In fact, when I was at Michaels Craft Store, I saw a pine wood chair on the top shelf that reminded me a lot of the ones Rossetti painted for Topsy.

Maybe someday I'll try my hand at it!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Il Barbagianni

About a week ago or so I came across this lovely artwork by Valentine Cameron Prinsep, entitled Il Barbagianni, which means The Barn Owl. I thought in passing at the time that it looked a lot like Lizzie Siddal. A friend pointed me to it the other day again, and I did a bit more digging. I am pretty much convinced now that this painting is a posthumous tribute to Lizzie, even though I couldn't for the life of me find an article on the topic anywhere online.

First of all, compare her profile to Lizzie's:

It's hardly worth arguing any further. But it's further interesting that the artwork was painted in 1863, a year after Lizzie died in 1862. Prinsep was apparently a good friend to Rossetti, and was the artist of one of the Oxford Debating Hall murals, before he went his own artistic way in the mid-60s. It appears this artwork may have not only been an homage to Lizzie, but to a time that was ending.

The artwork features a barn owl, a creature who is considered a symbol of death in many cultures. The Barn Owl in particular is associated with death, and is sometimes called the Death Owl for this reason.

The plant in the corner appears to be either an orange or a pomegranate tree. The orange tree was a symbol of true love and marriage. Prinsep also chose to pose Lizzie in a position that seems to intentionally show her wedding ring on her left finger.

For all these reasons, I would speculate that Prinsep painted this artwork as a posthumous memoir to Lizzie, but also as a comfort to her widower, his good friend Rossetti. The symbolism emphasizes her devotion as a true loving wife, and the calm with which she embraces the symbol of death shows that she wasn't afraid of her own passing. What a beautiful symbol of comfort from one genius friend to another!

I'd love to know what your take is on this artwork...the above is ALL my own speculation based JUST on the facts as presented in the artwork. Do you agree? Disagree? Have information to shed new light on this gorgeous piece?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Two Great Links

I don't know how I missed these two wonderful articles on Endicott Studio from Terri Windling (a personal hero of mine) when they first came out, but I discovered links to them on her new personal website.

This article is a fascinating look at the Pre-Raphaelites and how they influence today's fantasy writers.

This article is an equally interesting look at the Pre-Raphaelites and their equivalents today working in the art genre.

I especially love the quote from Yeats she uses at the beginning of the first article:

"I made a new religion," wrote the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats, "of poetic tradition, of a fardel of stories, and of personages, and of emotions, inseparable from their first expression, passed on from generation to generation by poets and painters. I wished for a world where I could discover this tradition perpetually, and not in pictures and poems only, but in tiles round the chimney piece and in the hangings that kept out the draft."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Well I'll be....

Some of you long-time (ha...I've only been blogging a couple of months!) readers of The Beautiful Necessity will remember one of the first blogs I did about modern artists cribbing from the Pre-Raphaelites to create new art without any real acknowledgement of the obvious source material. In the blog, I showed a couple of examples I hated, and mentioned my favorite living artist, Kinuko Craft, as the epitome of an artist who paints in an atmospheric Pre-Raphaelite style without having to steal from the masters.

Well, first of all, I've realized since writing this blog that it's not so much the using of Pre-Raphaelite art as a model that I dislike, as it is using it and then putting it together poorly. In my opinion, the artwork on the cover of the George Martin book (A Clash of Kings) takes art that is both technically and aesthetically pleasing, and slaughters it for elements that are put together into a well-painted but aesthetically awful artwork.

Anyway, all this to say that I must eat my hat when it comes to Kinuko. Today I was looking at an artwork of hers I've seen a million times before, and all of a sudden I was shocked to realize that I'd never's quite a copy of Dicksee's La Belle Dame Sans Merci! I would point out, however, that this is an example of what I call Pre-Raphaelite inspiration/cribbing done RIGHT. Craft realizes the power of the pose of the original figures, but reworks it in her own style, with her own new wardrobe and mood to the artwork.

I realize that I may be splitting hairs here, but I definitely think there's a difference between doing it well and doing it badly. When done badly, it enfuriates me. When done well.... apparently I don't even always notice!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Andrew Lloyd Webber Continued...

Click here to go to an interesting page showing images and an article detailing more about Sarah Brightman, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and their seeming common interest in Topsy and Jane.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Sheer Size of Things

I am so frustrated that I seem to be updating so sporadically lately! I hope things can get better/my schedule will be free-r soon.


There have been several articles in the news about two precious pieces of Pre-Raphaelite art from Puerto Rico are on display right now in England. The article is accompanied by the above image of two women admiring Edward Burne-Jones' The Sleep of Arthur in Avalon. Sometimes it is easy to forget the absolute impact that the size of the works Edward Burne-Jones did can have. And not only that, it is incredible to think that this man, whose work was trivialized during the early part of his life for being "decorative," can work in such a wide variety of sizes. This same man who created this massive artwork also did designs on small tiles, doors on furniture, and other very small surfaces.

I look forward this October to potentially seeing my first Burne-Jones in person, and I am eager to be overwhelmed by the experience.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Beata Beatrix...Rossetti's "Tribute"??

Apologies again for the hiatus of updates here. My only excuse is that my mind was elsewhere (wedding planning, to be precise). But we're back!

Something has been continuously on my mind ever since I read Pale As The Dead. In the book, the main character comes across an "urban legend" that Rossetti actually painted Beata Beatrix from Lizzie Siddal's corpse, propped up. I had never heard of such a thing, and I was fascinated to find out if it was an actual legend, or if it was created for the book. I never did successfully discover whether or not this was a real legend, (have any of you heard this before?) but in searching the internet for an answer, I came across an interesting article. Sadly, the article (Dante Rossetti's Beata Beatrix and the New Life, by Ronald W. Johnson) was accessed via JStor, a scholarly journal, so I can't link it here, but the gist of it is that the author discovered a letter from Rossetti that disproves that Beata Beatrix was actually directly created as a posthumous tribute to Lizzie. The author states:

Rossetti, despairing and guilt-ridden, could not easily return to work, and it has been assumed that as a last commemorative to his love he painted Elizabeth as Beatrix.

This does not appear correct, however, in the light of a letter Rossetti wrote to Ellen Heaton on 22 December 1863: "I lately found commencement of a lifesize head of my wife in oil, begun many years ago as a picture of Beatrice. It is only laid in and the canvas is in a bad state, but it is possible I might be able to work it up successfully either on this or another canvas, and I should like to do so if possible, as it was carefully begun. The picture was to represent Beatrice falling asleep by a wall bearing a sundial; and I have pencil sketches for it as a half figure comprising the arms and hands..."

The papers of H.T. Dunn also indicate that the head and hands had been completed when Elizabeth Siddal was alive but that the canvas had suffered "all sorts of damages," and only through the encouragement of Charles Howell, who had the painting relined, did Rossetti complete it. It was then undertaken again in about 1864 but not finally completed until 1870.

Interesting. Now, granted, all of this is not to say that Rossetti may not have been colored by the loss of his wife and the guilt of her death while completing the painting. There is so much emotion in Beata Beatrix it's hard to imagine he wasn't full of emotion while painting it.
However, the idea of the artwork as a whole, from start to finish, being created as a posthumous tribute is apparently false! The basic concept, the sundial, the pose, the figures...were all planned before Lizzie had even died!