Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Pre-Raphaelite Photographers

Ophelia (1852) by Sir John Everett Millais

One of my obsessions is the Pre-Raphaelites. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William, Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais. As well as those painters who influenced them and the ones who carried on those styles when the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood had ostensibly 'sold out' and focussed on more commercial works.

The early doctrine of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood contained four points:
1.To have genuine ideas to express;
2.To study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them;

3.To sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parodying and learned by rote;

4.And, most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues.

Originality was King, and the belief that art was essentially a spiritual practice was held in high regard. Rossetti in particular liked to bridge the worlds of art and poetry which blurred with the principles of the Romantic poets such as Byron, Shelley, Keats and Clare.
Elaine Watching the Shield of Lancelot (1859) by Henry Peach Robinson

Interestingly in the late 19th century, Pre-Raphaelitism's ideas and visuals such as 'Realism' and 'Medievalism' began to make their way into the growing realm of photography. Rossetti began to incorporate photography into his sphere of works and was joined by figures such as Henry Peach Robinson, and Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (AKA Lewis Carroll).

Mrs Jane Morris (1865) & Proserpine (1874) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Within these photographs are elements common to paintings by the Pre-Raphaelites - the wild haired and un-corseted/un-crinolined female ideals of the artists in particular. In the case of Charles Dodgson (below) that ideal is summed up in the innocence of the Liddell sisters one of which, Alice, would become his most famous.

Alice Liddell as a Beggar Girl (1859) by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll)

Pre-Raphaelitism has since been an ongoing source of inspirations for photographers since. Now the modern tastes for Gothic and Fantasy art, coupled with the resurgence in popularity of antique photography styles Pre-Raphaelite inspired Artistic Photography seems to be a viable style to explore.

Sarachmet, AKA  Malgorzata Maj, is one such person who has drawn on 19th century imagery and the principles of Romanticism in her photographic work. Her images are haunting and ethereal with the essence of the Pre-Raphaelites throughout. I really urge people to check out here work (link below).



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