Thursday, July 30, 2009

Desperate Romantics Episode 2

Thanks to Comfortablyblue for directing my attention to episode 2 of Desperate Romantics on YouTube!

Millais was quite distracted while painting Lizzie, by thoughts of Effie as Ophelia:

Meanwhile, the candles have all gone out on poor Lizzie:

After she has healed, she goes back into the water and finishes the painting:

And then promptly dives in face-first with Rossetti:

Lizzie sees Millais' painting for the first time:

My only real objection in this episode is the fact that they chose to make Ruskin appear to be more obsessed with extremely curvaceous and buxom interpretations of womanhood. In both last episode and this, you see him secretly looking at sketches of full-figured women in intimate positions. In reality, however, it was quite the opposite...he was obsessed with the very young, almost pre-puberty female body, and specifically, the hairless nether-regions. However much I may understand why they wouldn't want to put this in a tv show (his proclivities are as repulsive now as they were then), I hope people don't get the wrong idea of Ruskin as a result.

But again, a rolicking good show, quite enjoyable!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Blogger's Bio

Well, no luck finding a posting of Desperate Romantics on YouTube this time around, sadly.

Just so you know, I was interviewed by a friend, Rickey, for his blog, on the subject of the Pre-Raphaelites. I really enjoyed answering his questions, and the resulting interview is here.

Thanks Rickey!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Other Passions Intervene

Apologies for my silence on here for the last little bit. Last week was the premiere episode of Desperate Romantics, and I was focused on that for a while, until another passion of mine intervened on Friday, and took over for a while.

I bought a screen-worn movie costume from The Secret of Moonacre!!

This does, arguably, mix in with the Pre-Raphaelites tangentially, since the gown, and the character, really seem almost straight out of one of their works.

Anyway, I'm sure I'll come down from this giddy high eventually, and I hope someone posts part 2 of the BBC series tomorrow so that we can all discuss it. If I see it, I'll be sure to post a link!

In the mean time, here's a music video someone posted with images from episode 1:

Thursday, July 23, 2009

In Defense of the Desperate (Romantics)

Ruskin and Effie

I watched the majority of Part I last night on YouTube, thanks to the posted videos I linked. And I have to say...I rather enjoyed it. Granted, perhaps I would feel differently if it was focused on the lives of William Morris, Jane, and Edward Burne-Jones (my personal icons within the PRB), but although I shook my head a bit at some of the liberties, I felt it was still a good show.

To get them out of the way, a few things that bothered me.

  • The music was just horrible. During even slightly witty scenes, I half expected a 'wah wah wah' trumpet to start playing. Quite distracting, I thought.
  • The length of time it took for the PRB to create their masterpieces was totally shoved under the carpet. It was implied that works like Christ in the House of His Parents were created virtually overnight in a rush for the fictional exhibition. I understand that rushing things for the sake of the story line happens constantly in film, but this just irked me a bit.
  • The whole scene with Ruskin checking out the PRB's work, and the fact that Ruskin so despised Rossetti's work at that meeting. From everything I've seen, Ruskin encouraged Rossetti's genius. Also, Dante comes off as an utterly talentless hack who is only transformed into talent through Lizzie.
Now, things I DID especially like.

  • The portrayal of Ruskin and his relationship with Effie. This particular love triangle is one of my favorite in PRB history, since it has such a lovely happy ending (at least for poor Effie). I thought they portrayed Ruskin's conflicted thoughts on womanhood, and Effie's sad confusion over her husband's actions quite well.
  • Lizzie Siddal! Everyone has commented how grateful they are to the production that Lizzie is portrayed as intelligent and strong-willed, instead of a drooping wallflower with half-closed lids. Of course, within the production, this is probably in part to emphasize the change that comes over her as her laudanum addiction worsens.
In regards to the artists themselves, it did bother me at first the way they all seemed to be whittled down into a single characteristic: Hunt is holy and proper, Millais is sweet and charming, Rossetti is rakish and flirtatious. But as I drifted off to sleep last night after finishing the last video, it dawned on me that in some ways, this plan of attack is rather in-keeping with the artists themselves. After all...what was one of the greatest hallmarks of Pre-Raphaelite art, if not their symbolism? The way they whittled subject matter down into a single moment of allegory?

Overall, the show takes numerous liberties with the historical story of the Pre-Raphaelites when there's really no need to at all. But does it distract from the overall story of these determined young talented men who so revolutionized the art world of their day? I am, overall, thankful for this production, which I hope will spark more interest in the Brotherhood and their fascinating lives.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Whatever your feelings about the first episode of Desperate Romantics, this LOLpic made me smile. Courtesy of LJ user spyderfingers.

Bits and Pieces of Desperate Romantics

Bits of Desperate Romantics are up on Youtube.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Desperate Romantics Official Site

Thanks Hermes for the heads-up. Desperate Romantics has their site up on the BBC2 page, with all sorts of trailers, behind the scenes videos...

...none of which are 'viewable in my area.' :(

Can some reader over the pond please take pity on us in the states and convert these into something I can see?

There is an interesting "explore the paintings" area of the site, however, breaking down each episode into the featured artwork.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Desperate Romantics: Radio Interview

Still no sign on the intarwebs of the tv preview for Desperate Romantics. I've heard it has started playing (the commercial) on BBC 2, but it hasn't shown up on their official page, or on YouTube. But I did stumble on this interesting radio interview including sound clips, and the opinion of an "expert on Victorian art" who seems...a bit bemused by the programme.

By the way, a very big thank you to everyone who kept Tess in their thoughts yesterday. Her surgery took half the alotted/expected time, and appears to have been quite successful.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I Love You, Tess!!!

Many of you know, unless something directly pertains to the Pre-Raphaelites, I try to keep personal things away from this journal, just to keep it on-theme. But today is an extremely important and emotionally fraught day for me and for many people who read this is Tess Avelland's surgery.

Tess is a dear friend of mine, owner of the beautiful store Midnight Muse: a woman with a fellow passion for the Pre-Raphaelites, and a photographic memory for their art. She is dearer to me than I could probably ever express, and she has popped up occasionally on this site. Last Christmas, she went into the hospital for appendicitis, or so it appeared. During the procedure, however, they found a much more serious problem. After a stay at the hospital over the holidays, she was given the diagnosis: a rare form of cancer, Pseudomyxoma Peritonei. PMP, as it's known for short, is a cancer of the abdomen, and can spread to any of the vital organs in the abdominal region. Since it is such a rare cancer, there is little known about it. But the common treatment is a surgery, cytoreduction, known in the PMP community as the MoaS, or Mother of all Surgeries. The name of this surgery isn't given lightly...basically, depending on the advancement of the cancer, all or many non-vital organs are removed from the abdomen, and a heated chemotherapy is poured into the cavity. This is the surgery Tess will be undergoing today.

There is very little else I can think about right now. Tess is a beautiful woman, with a great love for beautiful art, so I thought I would post a few images that make me think of her.

Heal quickly, my Sister of Beauty. Si je puis, and I know you can.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Waterhouse Mermaid Statue

Today on Etsy I stumbled across a lovely small sculpture based on Waterhouse's Mermaid painting.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Daisies in Rene's Honeymoon Cabinet

Today's find from the new Birmingham website (see below) is this wonderful sketch EBJ did to prepare for his portion of the King Rene's Honeymoon Cabinet. I chuckled out loud when I saw another little homage/nod to Edward Burne-Jones' good friend Morris: He put Morris' Daisy pattern on her gown! (click to see larger)

and again, if you click to see detail, he also worked the Daisy pattern into the foliage in his Theseus and the Minotaur tile!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

For the most part, I usually try to avoid repeating information here that has already been given on one of the other sister blogs devoted to the Pre-Raphaelites. However, Margaret over at The Earthly Paradise has found such a treasure trove, it deserves to be shouted from the rooftops!

The website is run by the Birmingham Art Museum, and features a collection of 2238 artworks by the Pre-Raphaelites. But that's not all...the website features incredibly detailed scans of each piece that can be navigated through their Microsoft Silverlight technology so that you can see every little detail. If you can't experience the art in-person, this is doubtlessly the next best thing.

I only have been able to access about 22 pages of the collection yet, but as I pore over every sketch, I already have found some absolutely beautiful treasures.

For one thing, I can admire the absolute beauty of Millais' sketches even more. Even the most vaguely-rendered drawing has such romantic feeling to it!

I love this sketch, which shows Effie wearing "natural jewelry"...very around the time they fell in love.
I had never before seen Hughes' artwork, Amy, which shows a figure wearing the same gown as April Love, gazing at her name carved into a tree.
And Rossetti's early works are, as always, capable of such beauty!!

And all this in the first 22 pages! I cannot wait to explore more!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Burne-Jones: Colors of the Week & What Colored His Life

Over a year ago, during the first month I was posting here at TBN, I did a post on Burne-Jones and the colors of the week. The fact that Ned saw Saturday as "wet: ever since I was tiny, though I don't know why" always stuck with me, and so when I was reading May and Amy today, (yep, still reading it) it sprang to my mind when I read a portion of a letter he wrote about his childhood:

"Sunday was September 3rd--I always keep it with what piety I can--that was the day my Mammy died--on the sixth day after I was born...It used to be the saddest of days at home, whilst my father remembered things, a day of tears, and the show of tears, and I used to hate it when I was tiny..."

He says in another letter:

"I should like to be kind to all women and I don't think I ever hurt one yet--no, never willingly. I don't think it is ever out of my mind what hurt I did when I was born, and I was quite old as a child, ten or twelve, when my father still took me once a week to my mother's grave, and used to sit crying--and when we walked in the streets, he would stop at places and would tell me that hereabouts my mother was tired and could walk no more, or that at another place something amused her--the grave was in a churchyard on a hill called Holloway Head, and I thought it was the same name in the Lord's Prayer, and duly prayed night and morning "Holloway Head be thy name"...It is never long out of my mind, and I am always ready to cry with it--so I'm good to women..."

I wonder...if young Ned either was taken to the graveyard weekly, on Saturdays, or perhaps he saw Saturdays as 'wet' in anticipation of his father's tearful trips to the cemetery on Sundays? Either way, I have a sad suspicion that Ned's view of Saturdays as 'wet' has something to do with his father's mourning for his mother.

It's clear also from the quote that Ned still at least partially blamed himself even in old-age for what happened to his mother, and that the lack of a female figure growing up is part of what began the reverence for women that so colored his entire life. The author of May and Amy makes this observation as well, but I would take this evidence even further, and (although I am no therapist) would argue that perhaps this is also why Ned had such a history of falling for unobtainable women in his life instead of focusing on his own marriage. He was living out the same dynamic he saw in his father, who would forever long for and idealize a woman he could never be with again. For Ned, 'love' was dreaming of a woman he could never be with...that was what his father always did.

I hate to break a week's silence on The Beautiful Necessity with such a bittersweet post, but I found the thought fascinating, and had to share it!