Hello again. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. Christmas saw me busy. I have been learning woo commerce, hence the shop to the site is fixed, and getting my publication business up and running. I am stuck in Renaissance books regarding the artist techniques and who was in all the rave. That blog will be coming soon. Whew…. now to work.
The men and women of the Pre-Raphaelite movement researched their techniques just as we do today. William Holman Hunt stated that the notion of the movement was not aimed at “revival of early Renaissance styles”. The critics seen that the PRB were something different from the kinds of revivalism with which they were familiar.
What exactly did they have that was so different from what was being shown in the Victorian Era? Originality! The writers kept trying to group them into the old or new movements around the globe and they didn’t fit any of the molds.
John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, Thomas Woolner, James Collinson and Frederic George Stephens were the original seven of the PRB. They influenced and worked with many others, such as: Ford Madox Brown, Walter Deveral, John Lucas Tupper, William Bell Scott, Charles Compton, Aubrey Beardsley, Charles Allston Collins, John William Waterhouse, James McNeill Whistler, George Frederick Watts, Charles Ricketts and Stanley Spencer to name a few. The first female painter associated with the group with Joanna Mary Boyce. Other females were Elizabeth Siddall (who was also the main model and wife of Dante), Lucy Maddox Brown and Catherine Maddox Brown (daughters of Ford Madox Brown, Lucy married William Rossetti), Marie Spartali (married William Stillman), Joanne Boyce (married Henry Wells), and Evelyn Pickering (nice of John Roddam Spencer Stanhope).
Stephen Spender in 1945 got his critic notion in about the PRB: “the inspiration of Pre-Raphaelism was verbal, literary, poetic, rather than painting…” Then how do we know there is a PRB influence in a painting when it is shown?
William B. Scott described Dante’ procedure as thinning the oils to a watercolour consistency, using watercolour brushes and priming his surface as smooth as cardboard so that every tint was transparent. It permitted what fine lies and the white ground gave a translucent affect. The white ground was a Flemish technique that the PRB had read about in Cennini writings.
When the PRB painted they did not look at certain parts to make a composition, they took it in as a whole. Every detail was to be made for light and it gave the eye so many parts to take it. Their procedure was also to fully finish certain parts before beginning on others. That is why you see some pieces that look full of detail but the rest of the canvas had been abandoned for some reason or another.
New hues were available during the Victorian Era that were not available to the master of the Renaissance. Vivid yellows, emerald green, purples and the rose colour had become a signature colour.
Plein-air painting also came into the scene that only had been used in France. Before this time artists would sketch plain-air then paint in the studio. The new metal tubes for paint allowed for working outdoors, which gave a better quality to the colours shown.
New literary sources were being translated from Greek, Roman and Italian writing. The PRB took on board all this new knowledge to paint subjects as had never been seen in the art world. The Rossettis were avid readers of all things intellectual and beautiful.
So what can we take from these techniques that the Brotherhood started? They researched, they practiced daily, they tried the new products of the era, there were new observations of nature, and most of all they gave the people what they were looking for… expressions that kept their eyes and mind busy.
What does this era have to offer new? What technique of the master of PRB would you like to try? Which of these artist’s works give you a sense of yourself? What can you gleam from them to use in your own studio?
Researching the past techniques gives our studios new light. We are ever learning and doing what feels right for ourselves to express to others. Keep researching and daily work in your studio.