ANTIQUES WITH A HISTORY
PHOEBE TRAQUAIR BED
Willowwood: finished study for the decoration
of the keyboard panel of the piano for Lympne Castle, Kent
Watercolour on paper, 14.5 x 100.1 cm
Collections: H. M. Traquair Private collection
A grand piano, now lost, was commissioned
from Robert Lorimer by Frank Tennant for the Great Hall at
Lympne Castle, Kent, in 1908. The Great Hall at Lympne Castle,
acquired by him in 1906, was already furnished with mid-seventeenth
century furniture and two fifteenth century Burgundian tapestries.
Lorimer was entrusted with adding some new pieces of furniture,
of which the most notable was a grand piano.
Frank Tennant, like Traquair's brother William, was a collector
of paintings by Rossetti. He was later described by his sister
Margot Asquith as 'the artist among the boys ... he was born
with a perfect ear for music and eye for colour and could
distinguish what was beautiful in everything he saw ...'.
already, in 1905 painted a panel of 'babies, vines and grapes
and birds' for Hyndford House, Tennant's home in North Berwick
and was therefore chosen to decorate the piece. The legless
piano case and works were shipped from Steinway's London depot
to Edinburgh, arriving in early October 1909, by which date
this design for the keyboard panel - but not the other nine
preparatory studies was complete. Traquair was also to paint
the outside of the lid with a decorative tree of life and
the inside with a scene of Pan and Psyche.
Work on the decoration of the instrument began in November
and continued until the spring of 1910. In October 1912 the
Lorimer office finally settled accounts for the instrument:
Steinway & Sons were paid £244, Scott Morton &
Co. £76 15s for carving the case and 'Nuremberg' legs,
Moxon & Carfrae £62 9s. for gilding and Traquair
the handsome sum of £250 for her decoration. She retained
all ten watercolour studies. The piano was photographed for
the Lorimer office and a set of prints given to the artist.
It achieved much favourable comment in the press, being acknowledged
as a worthy successor to Alma-Tadema's painted instrument
for Henry G. Marquand and above all Burne-Jones decorated
'Orpheus' piano for William Graham exhibited at the New Gallery,
London, in 1892-3.
For the keyboard panel decoration Traquair reworked Rossetti's
sonnet Willowwood, first illuminated almost twenty years before.
The other 'musical' text she chose for the piano decoration
was The Song of Solomon.
Further information on the Lympne Castle piano may be found
in Kathleen Purcell, 'The Design of Grand Pianos' in The House
and Its Equipment, 1911, pp.63:65; Kathleen Purcell, 'A Notable
Piano' in Country Life, Architectural Supplement, 29 April
1911 (illustrated); Michael L Wilson, 'The Case of the Victorian
Piano', in The V & A Yearbook, 1972, PP 149-50; and Peter
D. Savage, Lorimer and the Edinburgh Craft Designers, 1980,
The Song of Solomon: nine finished studies for the decoration
of a piano for Lympne Castle, Kent 1909
(a) We will be glad and rejoice in thee watercolour and ink
on paper, 25.5 x 54.5 cm signed in monogram and dated
(b) Behold thou are fair, my love; behold thou are fair watercolour
and ink on paper, 25.5 x 40.5 cm
(c) While the King sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth
forth the smell thereof watercolour and ink on paper, 25.4
x 44.5 cm
(d) The voice of my beloved. Behold he cometh watercolour
and ink on paper, 22.5 x 44.3 cm
(e) By night on my bed I sought whom my soul Loveth watercolour
and ink on paper, 26 x 44.5 cm signed in monogram and dated
(f) Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars
of smoke watercolour and ink on paper, 25.5 x 37 cm
(g) Return, return 0 Shulamite; return, return, that we may
look upon thee watercolour and ink on paper, 25.5 x 53 cm
(h) I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me; let us
go forth into the field watercolour and ink on paper, 25.5
x 56 cm
(i) Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods
drown it watercolour and ink on paper, 26 x 54 cm collections:
H. M. Traquair Private collection
Each watercolour study is framed in a gold-painted mount
inscribed with the relevant text. All designs were completed
after Traquair viewed the piano case in early November 1909.
These scenes were the most successful part of the decoration,
employing a lyrical use of colour and tone and delicacy of
draughtsmanship. The medieval Italianate scenes have a sense
of innocence also found in La Vita Nuova (cat.54) and designs
for enamels of the 1904-8 period. For Traquair the decoration
of the Lympne piano was one of the most satisfying pieces
of painting she ever carried out. Writing to Percy Nobbs on
27 November she commented
.my piano gets on. I do honestly think it is the best
painting I have ever done, wood is so delightful to work on
A detailed account of this part of the piano decoration was
given in 1911 by Kathleen Purcell in her article, 'A Notable
Round the outside of the case on its vertical surfaces is
a series of nine panels which illustrate the greatest of songs
- The Song of Solomon. In the first scene (which begins at
the treble end of the instrument) the Shulamite is brought
before Solomon, who sits in the porch of his palace. In the
second panel ... she is with the King in his banqueting-hall.
Next follows the picture of her in the Women's Rooms, with
the shepherd stretching his hands through the bars of the
windows, while an attendant plays the lyre. In the adjoining
panel the Shulamite is asleep, and her dream is represented
in the encircled corner picture. The fifth and sixth show
Solomon returning from war, and pressing his suit with the
Shulamite. These two panels are on the end of the instrument,
and the remaining three on the straight side show the return
of the shepherd lover, the release of the Shulamite and her
return with him, and, finally, the wedding feast. This notable
sequence of pictures incorporates, in a naive and delightful
way, various features of Scottish scenery, and the progression
of events is marked by the changes from dawn to midday, and
through night to the brightness of another day.
When the piano was last exhibited in public, in 1952, it
was in a fragile condition and the painted decoration had
severely discoloured. The case of the grand piano for Lympne
Castle photographed in the Murieston Road workshops of Scott
Morton & Co. in the spring of 1910.
CHARLES SARGEANT JAGGER
A rare cast plaque by Charles
Height 0.620, Width 0.440
The Sir W James Thomas Shield,
dating from 1913-14
Jagger was working on this sculpture as war broke out.
Illustrated in 'The Sculpture of Charles Sargeant Jagger'
by Ann Compton, and also mentioned in the text.
Jagger had kept this shield as itemised amongst his effects
at his death.
There is a small amount of correspondence relating to the
commission which was formerly in the hands of his son by his
first marriage, Cedric Jagger.
Featured in 'The Studio' Volume 63 (October 1914) pp 84-99
The Sir W. James Thomas Shield for the Monmouthshire
Congregational Union, inscribed 'Search The Scriptures, The
Monmouthshire Congregational Union Sunday Schools Examination,
Inaugerated 1913, Sir W James Thomas Shield, Cariad, Gobaith,
Jagger probably secured this commission through
Goscombe John. The County Medical Officer in Gwent, Dr Rocyn-Jones,
managed the commission. Jagger sent him a design in early
1913 with an explanation of the iconography. He had chosen
the Celtic Style because it 'is suitbale for any object definitely
of Welsh interest and secondly because the Celtic is essentially
a "religious art". The father and mother mourning
a dead child recall human love and sorrow. They are 'overshadowed
by the all embracing and Divine Love of Christ... symbolised
by a crown of thorns, the dry prickles of which have bloomed
with briar roses'. This imagery is similar to that used in
Humanity. The Representation of 'Love Triuphs over
pain..... is derived from Mantegna in the Bell Arts in Verona.'
The full scale model was sent to Wurttemburg, Germany, to
be cast in silver. On October 1914 Jagger offered his resignation
to Dr Rocyn-Jones because, having enlisted, felt he could
not complete the commission. The model sent to Germany is
presumed lost, but a bronze cast was listed in the studio
inventory at Jagger's death.
ILLUSTRATION, THE STUDIO, Volume 63, (October
1914), page 99
While his career was relatively short, it
spanned just 16 years, Charles Sargeant Jagger (1885-1934)
established himself as one of the leading war memorial sculptors
in the years following 1918, and his contribution to the history
of British sculpture should not be underestimated. After leaving
the Royal College of Art in 1911, Jagger had little time before
the outbreak of war to develop a personal style. However,
on his return to Britain in 1918 the sculptor wasted little
time in establishing his artistic identity: his sculptures
of soldiers forming the foundation for his reputation. His
military figures display Jagger's artistic motivations. In
contrast to the fashion for idealism, the features of the
models are rugged and workman-like: characteristics which
created a 'realist' label for the artist. However, these pieces
show more than realism at work. Uniform and equipment convey
symbolic meaning and their strikingly symmetrical poses reflect
the influence of primitive art. The combination of realism
and primitivism is evident throughout Jagger's body of work,
from the war memorials to his later creations that included
religious works, portrait statues and decorative architectural
schemes. Often criticised for not being modernist, Jagger's
work is also consistently admired - his Royal Artillery Memorial
is widely accepted as a true icon of early twentieth-century
British sculpture. In this, the first study of the sculptor's
entire career, Ann Compton seeks to place Jagger on the art-historical
map. Comprising images of all his sculptures and including
research from many unpublished sources, including the artist's
private papers, The Sculpture of Charles Sargeant Jagger will
provide an authoritative overview of a career that has been
Charles Sargeant Jagger, who was wounded twice
during the conflict and won the Military Cross for courage,
knew better. When invited to produce the Royal Artillery Memorial
on Hyde Park Corner, he told the Daily Express that "his
experience in the trenches persuaded me of the necessity for
frankness and truth". Defying the convention of using
symbolic figures, Jagger placed bronze depictions of a gunner,
an officer and a driver on three sides of his elaborate monument.
Rather than signifying triumph, they all look lost in thought.
Jagger also laid out a bronze body of a dead Tommy with a
greatcoat shrouding his face. Displaying admirable boldness,
he had defied the government edict that had banned images
of dead British soldiers throughout the war years. By scorning
censorship and gung-ho bombast, Jagger arrived at an accurate
reflection of many ex-soldiers' views. They felt increasingly
disillusioned with the post-war state of a country where chronic
unemployment was exacerbated by niggardly pensions for men
disabled by their wounds.
All information, courtesy of Ann Compton,
author, 'The Sculpture of Charles Sargeant Jagger'
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (also known
as the Pre-Raphaelites) was a group of English painters, poets
and critics, founded in 1848 by John Everett Millais, Dante
Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt.
The group's intention was to reform art by rejecting what
they considered to be the mechanistic approach adopted by
the Mannerist artists who followed Raphael and Michelangelo.
They believed that the Classical poses and elegant compositions
of Raphael in particular had been a corrupting influence on
academic teaching of art. Hence the name "Pre-Raphaelite".
In particular they objected to the influence of Sir Joshua
Reynolds, the founder of the English Royal Academy of Arts.
They called him 'Sir Sloshua', believing that his broad technique
was a sloppy and formulaic form of academic Mannerism. In
contrast they wanted to return to the abundant detail, intense
colours, and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian
and Flemish art.
The Pre-Raphaelites have been considered the first avant-garde
movement in art, though they have also been denied that status,
because they continued to accept both the concepts of history
painting and of 'mimesis', or imitation of nature, as central
to the purpose of art. However, the Pre-Raphaelites undoubtedly
defined themselves as a reform movement, created a distinct
name for their form of art, and published a periodical, The
Germ, to promote their ideas. Their debates were recorded
in the "Pre-Raphaelite Journal".
Beginnings of the Brotherhood
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in John Millais'
parents' house on Gower Street, London in 1848. At the initial
meeting John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William
Holman Hunt were present. Hunt and Millais were students at
the Royal Academy of Arts. They had previously met in another
loose association, a sketching society called the Cyclographic
club. Rossetti was a pupil of Ford Madox Brown. He had met
Hunt after seeing Hunt's painting "The Eve of St Agnes",
based on Keats' poem. As an aspiring poet, Rossetti wished
to develop the links between Romantic poetry and art. By autumn
four more members had also joined to form a seven-strong Brotherhood.
These were William Michael Rossetti (Dante Gabriel Rossetti's
brother), Thomas Woolner, James Collinson and Frederic George
Stephens. Ford Madox Brown was invited to join, but preferred
to remain independent. He nevertheless remained close to the
group. Some other young painters and sculptors were also close
associates, including Charles Alston Collins, Thomas Tupper
and Alexander Munro. They kept the existence of the Brotherhood
secret from members of the Royal Academy.
The Brotherhood's early doctrines were expressed in four declarations:
1. To have genuine ideas to express;
2. To study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express
3. To sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt
in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional
and self-parading and learned by rote;
4. And, most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good
pictures and statues.
These principles are deliberately undogmatic, since the Brotherhood
wished to emphasise the personal responsibility of individual
artists to determine their own ideas and method of depiction.
Influenced by Romanticism, they thought that freedom and responsibility
were inseparable. Nevertheless, they were particularly fascinated
by Medieval culture, believing it to possess a spiritual and
creative integrity lost in later eras. This emphasis on medieval
culture was to clash with the realism promoted by the stress
on independent observation of nature. In its early stages
the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood believed that the two interests
were consistent with one another, but in later years the movement
divided in two directions. The realist side was led by Hunt
and Millais, while the medievalist side was led by Rossetti
and his followers, Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris.
This split was never absolute, since both factions believed
that art was essentially spiritual in character, opposing
their idealism to the materialist realism associated with
Courbet and Impressionism.
In their attempts to revive the brilliance of colour found
in Quattrocento art, Hunt and Millais developed a technique
of painting in thin glazes of pigment over a wet white ground.
In this way they hoped that their colours would retain jewel-like
transparency and clarity. This emphasis of brilliance of colour
was in reaction to the excessive use of bitumen by earlier
British artists such as Reynolds, David Wilkie and Benjamin
Robert Haydon. Bitumen produces unstable areas of muddy darkness,
an effect which the Pre-Raphaelies despised.
The first exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite work came in 1849.
Both Millais' "Isabella" (1848-1849) and Holman
Hunt's "Rienzi" (1848-1849) were exhibited at the
Royal Academy and Rossetti's "Girlhood of Mary Virgin"
was shown at the Free Exhibition on Hyde Park Corner. As agreed
all members of the Brotherhood signed works with their name
and "PRB". Between January and April 1850 the group
published a literary magazine called The Germ. William Rossetti
edited the magazine, which published poetry by the Rossettis,
Woolner and Collinson, together with essays on art and literature
by associates of the Brotherhood, such as Coventry Patmore.
As the short runtime implies, the magazine did not manage
to achieve a sustained momentum. (Daly 1989)
In 1850 the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood became controversial
after the exhibition of Millais's painting "Christ in
the House of His Parents", considered to be blasphemous
by many reviewers, notably Charles Dickens. Their medievalism
was attacked as backward-looking and their extreme devotion
to detail was condemned as ugly and jarring to the eye. According
to Dickens, Millais made the Holy Family look like alcoholics
and slum-dwellers, adopting contorted and absurd 'medieval'
poses. A rival group of older artists, The Clique, also used
their influence against the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Their
principles were publicly attacked by the President of the
Academy, Sir Charles Lock Eastlake.
However, the Brotherhood found support from the critic John
Ruskin, who praised their devotion to nature and rejection
of conventional methods of composition. He continued to support
their work both financially and in his writings.
Following the controversy, Collinson left the Brotherhood.
They met to discuss whether he should be replaced by Charles
Alston Collins or Walter Howell Deverell, but were unable
to make a decision. From that point on the group disbanded,
though their influence continued to be felt. Artists who had
worked in the style still followed these techniques (initially
anyway) but they no longer signed works "PRB".
Later developments and influence
Artists who were influenced by the Brotherhood include John
Brett, Philip Calderon, Arthur Hughes, Evelyn De Morgan and
Frederic Sandys. Ford Madox Brown, who was associated with
them from the beginning, is often seen as most closely adopting
the Pre-Raphaelite principles.
After 1856, Rossetti became an inspiration for the medievalising
strand of the movement. His work influenced his friend William
Morris, in whose firm Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.
he became a partner, and with whose wife Jane he may have
had an affair. Ford Madox Brown and Edward Burne-Jones also
became partners in the firm. Through Morris's company the
ideals of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood influenced many interior
designers and architects, arousing interest in medieval designs,
as well as other crafts. This led directly to the Arts and
Crafts movement headed by William Morris. Holman Hunt was
also involved with this movement to reform design through
the Della Robbia Pottery company.
After 1850, both Hunt and Millais moved away from direct imitation
of medieval art. Both stressed the realist and scientific
aspects of the movement, though Hunt continued to emphasise
the spiritual significance of art, seeking to reconcile religion
and science by making accurate observations and studies of
locations in Egypt and Palestine for his paintings on biblical
subjects. In contrast, Millais abandoned Pre-Raphaelitism
after 1860, adopting a much broader and looser style influenced
by Reynolds. William Morris and others condemned this reversal
The movement influenced the work of many later British artists
well into the twentieth century. Rossetti later came to be
seen as a precursor of the wider European Symbolist movement.
In the late twentieth century the Brotherhood of Ruralists
based its aims on Pre-Raphaelitism, while the Stuckists have
also have derived inspiration from it.
The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has a world-renowned
collection of works by Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites
which strongly influenced the young J.R.R. Tolkien while he
was growing up in the city.
In the twentieth century artistic ideals changed and art moved
away from representing reality. Since the Pre-Raphaelites
were fixed on portraying things with near-photographic precision,
though with a distinctive attention to detailed surface-patterns,
their work was devalued by many critics. Since the 1970s there
has been a resurgence in interest in the movement.
SIR JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS
Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet, PRA (June 8, 1829-August
13, 1896) was a British painter and illustrator who was one
of founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Life and Work
Millais was born in Southampton of a prominent Jersey-based
family. His prodigious artistic talent won him a place at
the Royal Academy schools at the unprecedented age of eleven.
While there, he met William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel
Rossetti with whom he formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
Millais' Christ in the House of his Parents (1850) was highly
controversial because of its realistic portrayal of a working
class Holy Family labouring in a messy carpentry workshop.
Later works were also controversial, though less so. Millais
achieved popular success with A Huguenot (1852), which depicts
a young couple about to be separated because of religious
conflicts. He repeated this theme in many later works.
All these early works were painted with great attention to
detail, often concentrating on the beauty and complexity of
the natural world. In paintings such as Ophelia (1852) Millais
created dense and elaborate pictorial surfaces based on the
integration of naturalistic elements. This approach has been
described as a kind of "pictorial eco-system".
This style was promoted by the critic John Ruskin, who had
defended the Pre-Raphaelites against their critics. Millais'
friendship with Ruskin introduced him to Ruskin's wife Effie.
Soon after they met she modelled for his painting The Order
of Release. As Millais painted Effie they fell in love. Despite
having been married to Ruskin for several years, Effie was
still a virgin. Her parents realized something was wrong and
she filed for an annulment. In 1856, after her marriage to
Ruskin was annulled, Effie and John Millais married.
After his marriage, Millais began to paint in a broader style,
which was condemned by Ruskin as "a catastrophe".
It has been argued that this change of style resulted from
Millais's need to increase his output to support his growing
family. Unsympathetic critics such as William Morris accused
him of "selling out" to achieve popularity and wealth.
His admirers, in contrast, pointed to the influence of Whistler
and Impressionism. Millais himself argued that as he grew
more confident as an artist, he could paint with greater boldness.
In his article "Thoughts on our art of Today" (1888)
he recommended Velázquez and Rembrandt as models for
artists to follow.
Paintings such as The Eve of St. Agnes and The Somnambulist
clearly show the influence of Whistler, whose work Millais
strongly supported. Other paintings of the 1860s can be interpreted
as part of the Aesthetic Movement. Many deploy broad blocks
of harmoniously arranged colour. Later works, from the 1870s
onwards demonstrate Millais's reverence for Rembrandt. Notable
among these are The North West Passage (1874) and the Boyhood
of Raleigh (1871). These paintings indicate Millais's interest
in subjects connected to Britain's expanding empire and world-wide
explorations. His last project was to be a painting depicting
a white explorer lying dead in the African veldt, his body
contemplated by two indifferent Africans. This fascination
with wild and bleak locations is also evident in his many
landscape paintings of this period, which usually depict difficult
or dangerous terrain. The first of these, Chill October (1870)
was painted in Perth, near his wife's girlhood home. Many
others were painted elsewhere in Perthshire, near Dunkeld,
where Millais rented a house each autumn in order to hunt
and fish. Millais also achieved great popularity with his
paintings of children, notably Bubbles (1886) - famous, or
perhaps notorious, for being used in the advertising of Pears'
soap - and Cherry Ripe.
Millais was also very successful as a book illustrator, notably
for the works of Anthony Trollope and the poems of Tennyson.
His complex illustrations of the parables of Jesus were published
in 1864. His father-in-law commissioned stained-glass windows
based on them for a church in Perth. He also provided illustrations
for magazines such as Good Words. In 1869 he was recruited
as an artist for the newly founded weekly newspaper The Graphic.
Millias was elected as an associate member of the Royal Academy
of Arts in 1853, and was soon elected as a full member of
the Academy, in which he was a prominent and active participant.
He was granted a baronetcy in 1885, the first artist to be
honoured with an hereditary title. After the death of Frederic
Leighton in 1896, Millais was elected President of the Royal
Academy, but he died later in the same year from throat cancer.
DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (May 12, 1828 - April 10, 1882) was
an English poet, illustrator, painter and translator.
The son of émigré Italian scholar Gabriele Rossetti,
D. G. Rossetti was born in London, England and originally
named Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti. His family and friends
called him "Gabriel", but in publications he put
the name Dante first, because of its literary associations.
He was the brother of poet Christina Rossetti and the critic
William Michael Rossetti and a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite
Brotherhood with John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt.
At a very early age, he showed a strong interest in literature.
Like all his siblings, he aspired to be a poet. However, he
also wished to be a painter, having shown a great interest
in Medieval Italian art. He studied under Ford Madox Brown,
with whom he was to retain a close relationship throughout
Following the exhibition of Holman Hunt's painting The Eve
of St. Agnes, Rossetti sought out Hunt's friendship. The painting
illustrated a poem by the then still little-known John Keats.
Rossetti's own poem "The Blessed Damozel" was an
imitation of Keats, so he believed that Hunt might share his
artistic and literary ideals. Together they developed the
philosophy of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Rossetti was
always more interested in the Medieval than in the modern
side of the movement. He was publishing translations of Dante
and other Medieval Italian poets, and his art also sought
to adopt the stylistic characteristics of the early Italians.
Nevertheless Rossetti's first major paintings display some
of the realist qualities of the early Pre-Raphaelite movement.
His "Girlhood of Mary, Virgin" and "Ecce Ancilla
Domini" both portray Mary as an emaciated and repressed
teenage girl. His incomplete picture "Found" was
his only major modern-life subject. It was to have depicted
a prostitute, lifted up from the street by a country-drover
who recognises his old sweetheart. However, Rossetti increasingly
preferred symbolic and mythological images to realistic ones.
This was also true of his later poetry.
Although he won support from John Ruskin, criticism of his
paintings caused him to withdraw from public exhibitions and
turn to watercolors, which could be sold privately. Subjects
taken from Dante Alighieri's La Vita Nuova (which Rossetti
had translated into English) and Sir Thomas Malory's Morte
d'Arthur inspired his art in the 1850s. His visions of Arthurian
romance and medieval design also inspired his new friends
of this time, William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones.
Both these developments were precipitated by events in his
private life, in particular by the death of his wife Elizabeth
Siddal. She had taken an overdose of laudanum shortly after
giving birth to a dead child. Rossetti became increasingly
depressed, and buried the bulk of his unpublished poems in
her grave at Highgate Cemetery. He idealised her image as
Dante's Beatrice in a number of paintings, such as "Beata
These paintings were to be a major influence on the development
of the European Symbolist movement. In these works, Rossetti's
depiction of women became almost obsessively stylised. He
tended to portray his new lover Fanny Cornforth as the epitome
of physical eroticism, whilst another of his mistresses Jane
Burden, the wife of his business partner William Morris, was
glamorised as an ethereal goddess.
During this time, Rossetti acquired an obsession for exotic
animals, and in particular wombats. He would frequently ask
friends to meet him at the "Wombat's Lair" at the
London Zoo in Regent's Park, and would spend hours there himself.
Finally, in September 1869, he was to acquire the first of
two pet wombats. This shortlived wombat, named "Top",
was often brought to the dinner table and allowed to sleep
in the large centrepiece of the dinner table during meals.
Indeed, this is said to have inspired the dormouse from Lewis
Caroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
During these years, Rossetti was prevailed upon by friends
to exhume his poems from his wife's grave. This he did, collating
and publishing them in 1871. They created a controversy when
they were attacked as the epitome of the "fleshly school
of poetry". The eroticism and sensuality of the poems
caused offense. One poem, "Nuptial Sleep", described
a couple falling asleep after sex. This was part of Rossetti's
sonnet sequence The House of Life, a complex series of poems
tracing the physical and spiritual development of an intimate
relationship. Rossetti described the sonnet form as a "moment's
monument", implying that it sought to contain the feelings
of a fleeting moment, and to reflect upon their meaning. The
House of Life was a series of interacting monuments to these
moments - an elaborate whole made from a mosaic of intensely
described fragments. This was Rossetti's most substantial
Rossetti also typically wrote sonnets for his pictures, such
as "Astarte Syraica". As a designer, he worked with
William Morris to produce images for stained glass and other
Toward the end of his life, Rossetti sank into a morbid state,
darkened by his drug addiction and increasing mental instability,
possibly worsened by his reaction to savage critical attacks
on his disinterred (1869) poetry from the manuscript poems
he had buried with his wife. He spent his last years as a
withdrawn recluse. He died at Birchington-on-Sea, Kent, England.
WILLIAM HOLMAN HUNT
William Holman Hunt (born 2 April 1827 - died 7 September
1910) was a British painter. He was one of the founders of
the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Hunt's intended middle name was "Hobman", which
he disliked intensely. He chose to call himself Holman when
he discovered that his middle name had been misspelled this
way after a clerical error at his wedding at the church of
Saint Mary the Virgin, Ewell. Though his surname is "Hunt"
his fame in later life led to the inclusion of his middle
name as part of his surname, in the hyphenated form "Holman-Hunt",
by which his children were known.
After eventually entering the Royal Academy art schools, having
initially been rejected, Hunt rebelled against the influence
of its founder Sir Joshua Reynolds. He formed the Pre-Raphaelite
movement in 1848, after meeting the poet and artist Dante
Gabriel Rossetti. Along with John Everett Millais they sought
to revitalise art by emphasising the detailed observation
of the natural world in a spirit of quasi-religious devotion
to truth. This religious approach was influenced by the spiritual
qualities of medieval art, in opposition to the alleged rationalism
of the Renaissance embodied by Raphael.
Hunt's works were not initially successful, and were widely
attacked in the art press for their alleged clumsiness and
ugliness. He achieved some early note for his intensely naturalistic
scenes of modern rural and urban life, such as The Hireling
Shepherd and The Awakening Conscience. However, it was with
his religious paintings that he became famous, initially The
Light of the World (now in the chapel at Keble College, Oxford,
with a later copy in St Paul's Cathedral), which toured Britain
and the United States. After travelling to the Holy Land in
search of accurate topographical and ethnographical material
for further religious works, Hunt painted The Scapegoat, The
Finding of the Saviour in the Temple and The Shadow of Death,
along with many landscapes of the region. Hunt also painted
many works based on poems, such as Isabella and The Lady of
All these paintings were notable for their great attention
to detail, their hard vivid colour and their elaborate symbolism.
These features were influenced by the writings of John Ruskin
and Thomas Carlyle, according to whom the world itself should
be read as a system of visual signs. For Hunt it was the duty
of the artist to reveal the correspondence between sign and
fact. Out of all the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
Hunt remained most true to their ideals throughout his career.
He eventually had to give up painting because failing eyesight
meant that he could not get the level of quality that he wanted.
His last major work, The Lady of Shalott, was completed with
the help of an assistant.
Hunt married twice. After a failed engagement to his model
Annie Miller, he married Fanny Waugh, who later modelled for
the figure of Isabella. When she died in childbirth in Italy
he sculpted her tomb up at Fiesole, having it brought down
to the English Cemetery, beside the tomb of Elizabeth Barrett
Browning. His second wife, Edith, was Fanny's sister. At this
time it was illegal in Britain to marry one's deceased wife's
sister, so Hunt was forced to travel abroad to marry her.
This led to a serious breach with other family members, notably
his former Pre-Raphaelite colleague Thomas Woolner, who had
married Fanny and Edith's third sister Alice.
Hunt's autobiography Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite
Brotherhood was written to correct other literature about
the origins of the Brotherhood, which in his view did not
adequately recognise his own contribution. Many of his late
writings are attempts to control the interpretation of his
In 1905, he was appointed to the Order of Merit by King Edward
VII. At the end of his life he lived in Sonning-on-Thames.
John Ruskin (February 8, 1819 - January 20, 1900) is best
known for his work as an art critic and social critic, but
is remembered as an author, poet and artist as well. Ruskin's
essays on art and architecture were extremely influential
in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.
Ruskin was born in London, and raised in south London, the
son of a wine importer who was one of the founders of the
company that became Allied Domecq. He was educated at home,
and entered the University of Oxford without proper qualifications
for a degree. He nevertheless impressed the scholars of Christ
Church after he won the Newdigate prize for poetry, his earliest
interest. In consequence, he was awarded a degree.
He published his first book "Modern Painters" in
1843, under the anonymous identity "An Oxford Graduate".
It argued that modern landscape painters - in particular J.M.W.
Turner - were superior to the so-called "Old Masters"
of the Renaissance. Such a claim was highly controversial,
especially as Turner's semi-abstract late works were being
denounced as meaningless daubs. Ruskin argued that these works
derived from Turner's profound understanding of nature. He
soon met and befriended Turner, eventually becoming one of
the executors of his will.
Ruskin followed this book with a second volume, developing
his ideas about symbolism in art. He then turned to architecture,
writing The Seven Lamps of Architecture and The Stones of
Venice, both of which argued that architecture cannot be separated
from morality, and that the "Decorated Gothic" style
was the highest form of architecture yet achieved.
By this time Ruskin was writing in his own name, and had become
the most famous cultural theorist of his day. In 1848, he
married Effie Gray, for whom he wrote the early fantasy novel
The King of the Golden River. Their marriage was notoriously
unhappy, eventually being annulled in 1854 on grounds of his
"incurable impotency," a charge Ruskin later
disputed. Effie later married the artist John Everett Millais,
who had been Ruskin's protegé.
Ruskin had come into contact with Millais following the controversy
over his painting Christ in the House of his Parents, which
was considered blasphemous at the time. Millais, with his
colleagues William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti,
had established the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. The
Pre-Raphaelites were influenced by Ruskin's theories. As a
result, the critic wrote letters to The Times defending their
work, later meeting them. Initially he favoured Millais, who
travelled to Scotland with Ruskin and Effie to paint Ruskin's
portrait. Effie's increasing attachment to Millais created
a crisis in the marriage, leading Effie to leave Ruskin, causing
a major public scandal. Millais abandoned the Pre-Raphaelite
style after his marriage, and his later works were savagely
attacked by Ruskin. Ruskin continued to support Hunt and Rossetti.
He also provided independent funds to encourage the art of
Rossetti's wife Elizabeth Siddal. Other artists influenced
by the Pre-Raphaelites also received both written and financal
support from him, including John Brett, Burne-Jones and John
During this period Ruskin wrote regular reviews of the annual
exhibitions at the Royal Academy under the title Academy Notes.
His reviews were so influential and so judgemental that he
alienated many artists, leading to much comment. For example
Punch published a comic poem about a victim of the critic
containing the lines "I paints and paints, hears no complaints...then
savage Ruskin sticks his tusk in and nobody will buy".
Ruskin also sought to encourage the creation of architecture
based on his theories. He was friendly with Sir Henry Acland,
who supported his attempts to get the new Oxford University
Museum of Natural History built as a model of modern Gothic.
Ruskin also inspired other architects to adapt the Gothic
style for modern culture. These buildings created what has
been called a distinctive "Ruskinian Gothic" style.
Following a crisis of religious belief Ruskin abandoned art
criticism at the end of the 1850s, moving towards commentary
on politics, under the influence of his great friend Thomas
Carlyle. In Unto This Last he expounded his theories about
social justice, which influenced the development of the British
Labour party and of Christian socialism. Upon the death of
his father, Ruskin declared that it was not possible to be
a rich socialist and gave away most of his inheritance. He
founded the charity known as the Guild of St George in the
1870s and endowed it with large sums of money as well as a
remarkable collection of art. He also gave the money to enable
Octavia Hill to begin her practical campaign of housing reform.
He attempted to reach a wide readership with his pamphlets
Fors Clavigera, aimed at the "working men of England".
He also taught at the Working Men's College, London and was
the first Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford, from 1869
to 1879, he also served a second term. Ruskin College, Oxford
is named after him.
While at Oxford Ruskin became friendly with Lewis Carroll,
another don, and was photographed by him. After the parting
of Carroll and Alice Liddell, she and her sisters pursued
a similar relationship with Ruskin, as detailed in Ruskin's
During this period Ruskin fell deeply in love with Rose la
Touche, an intensely religious young woman. He met her in
1858, when she was only nine years old, proposed to her eight
years later, and was finally rejected in 1872. She died shortly
afterwards. These events plunged Ruskin into despair and led
to bouts of mental illness. He suffered from a number of breakdowns
as well as delirious visions.
In 1878, he published a scathing review of paintings by James
McNeill Whistler exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery. He found
particular fault with Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling
Rocket, and accused Whistler of "ask[ing] two hundred
guineas for throwing a pot of paint in the public's face."
Attempting to gain publicity, Whistler filed, and won, a libel
suit against Ruskin, though the award of damages was only
one farthing. The episode tarnished Ruskin's reputation, and
may have accelerated his mental decline.
The emergence of the Aesthetic movement and Impressionism
alienated Ruskin from the art world, and his later writings
were increasingly seen as irrelevant, especially as he seemed
to be more interested in book illustators such as Kate Greenaway
than in modern art. He continued to support philanthropic
movements such as the Home Arts and Industries Association
Much of his later life was spent at a house called Brantwood,
on the shores of Coniston Water located in the Lake District
William Morris (March 24, 1834 - October 3, 1896) was an English
artist, writer, socialist activist and pioneer of Eco-socialism,
one of the principal founders of the British Arts and Crafts
movement, best known as a designer of wallpaper and patterned
fabrics, a writer of poetry and fiction, and a pioneer of
the socialist movement in Britain near London and the Eco-socialist
movement of the later twentieth century.
His family was wealthy, and he went to school at Marlborough
College, but left in 1851 after a student rebellion there.
He then went to Oxford University (Exeter College) after studying
for his matriculation to the university. He became influenced
by John Ruskin there, and met his life-long friends and collaborators,
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown
and Philip Webb there as well. He also met his wife, Jane
Burden, a working-class woman whose pale skin, languid figure,
and wavy, abundant dark hair were considered by Morris and
his friends the epitome of beauty.
These friends formed an artistic movement, the Pre-Raphaelite
Brotherhood. They eschewed the tawdry industrial manufacture
of decorative arts and architecture and favoured a return
to hand-craftsmanship, raising artisans to the status of artists.
He espoused the philosophy that art should be affordable,
hand-made, and that there should be no hierarchy of artistic
Morris had two daughters, Jane (called Jenny) and Mary (called
Morris left Oxford to join an architecture firm, but soon
found himself drawn more and more to the decorative arts.
He and Webb built Red House at Bexleyheath in Kent, Morris's
wedding gift to Jane. It was here his design ideas began to
take physical shape. (In honour of Morris's connection with
Bexleyheath, a bust of Morris was added to an original niche
in the brick clocktower in the town centre in 1996.) He also
built Standen House in Sussex along with Webb.
In 1861, he founded the firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner
& Co. with Gabriel Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Madox Brown
and Philip Webb. Throughout his life, he continued to work
in his own firm, although the firm changed names. Its most
famous incarnation was as Morris and Company. The company
encouraged the revival of traditional crafts such as stained
glass painting, and Morris himself single-handedly recreated
the art of tapestry weaving in England. His designs are still
sold today under licences given to Sanderson and Sons and
Liberty of London
Morris had already begun publishing poetry and short stories
through a magazine founded with his friends while at university.
His first independently published work, The Defence of Guinevere
was coolly received by the critics, and he was discouraged
from publishing more for a number of years. However, "The
Haystack in the Floods", probably these days his best-known
poem, dates from just after this time. It is a grimly realistic
piece set during the Hundred Years War in which the doomed
lovers Jehane and Robert have a last parting in a convincingly
portrayed rain swept countryside.
When he returned to poetry it was with The Earthly Paradise,
a huge collection of poems loosely bound together with the
theme of a group of mediaeval wanderers who set out to search
for a land of everlasting life and after much disillusion
discover a surviving colony of Greeks with whom they exchange
stories. The collection brought him almost immediate fame
The last-written stories in the collection are retellings
of Icelandic sagas, and from then until his socialist period
Morris's fascination with the ancient Germanic and Norse peoples
dominated his writing. Together with his Icelandic friend
Eirikr Magnusson he was the first to translate many of the
Icelandic sagas into English, and his own epic retelling of
the story of Sigurd the Volsung was his favourite among his
Due to his wide poetic acclaim, Morris was offered the Poet
Laureateship, after the death of Tennyson in 1892, but declined.
Although Morris never became a practising architect, his interest
in architecture continued throughout his life. In 1877, he
founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
His preservation work resulted indirectly in the founding
of the National Trust. Combined with the inspiration of John
Ruskin - in particular his work in The Stones of Venice on
The Nature of Gothic - architecture played an important symbolic
part in Morris's approach to socialism.
Morris and his daughter May were amongst Britain's first socialists,
working directly with Eleanor Marx and Engels to begin the
socialist movement. In 1883, he joined the Social Democratic
Federation, and in 1884 he organised the breakaway Socialist
League. Morris found himself rather awkwardly positioned as
a mediator between the marxist and anarchist sides of the
socialist movement, and bickering between the two sides eventually
tore the Socialist League apart. This side of Morris's work
is well-discussed in the biography (subtitled 'Romantic to
Revolutionary') by E. P. Thompson. It was during this period
that Morris wrote his best-known prose works; in particular
A Dream of John Ball and the utopian News from Nowhere.
While pioneering socialism in the UK, Morris is also largely
credited with developing Eco-socialism, a brand of socialism
that merges Marxism, ecology and environmentalism, which became
more influential in the later twentieth century with the rise
of the environmental movement. During the 1880s and 1890s,
Morris promoted his Eco-socialist ideas within the Social
Democratic Federation and Socialist League
Morris and Rossetti rented a country house, Kelmscott Manor
at Kelmscott, Oxfordshire, as a summer retreat, but it soon
became a retreat for Rossetti and Jane Morris to have a long-lasting
affair. After his departure from the Socialist League Morris
divided his time between the Company, now relocated to Merton
Abbey, the Kelmscott Press, and Kelmscott Manor, where he
wrote a series of fantasy novels later to be a strong influence
on J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. At his death in 1896
he was interred in the Kelmscott village churchyard
The Kelmscott Press
In January 1891, Morris founded the Kelmscott Press at Hammersmith,
London, in order to produce examples of improved printing
and book design. He designed clear typefaces, such as his
Roman 'golden' type, which was inspired by that of the early
Venetian printer Nicolaus Jenson, and medievalizing decorative
borders for books that drew their inspiration from the incunabula
of the 15th century and their woodcut illustrations. Selection
of paper and ink, and concerns for the overall integration
of type and decorations on the page made the Kelmscott Press
the most famous of the private presses of the Arts and Crafts
movement. It operated until 1898, producing 53 volumes, and
inspired other private presses, notably the Doves Press.
Among book lovers, the Kelmscott Press edition of The Works
of Geoffrey Chaucer, illustrated by Burne-Jones, is considered
one of the most beautiful books ever produced. A fine edition
facsimile of the Kelmscott Chaucer was published in 2002 by
The Folio Society.
The Morris Societies in both Britain and the US are active
in preserving Morris's work and ideas.
The influence of William Morris lives on in modern interiors
and architecture. Mass interest in the Arts and Crafts movement
is cyclical as with any 'look' but companies such as The Arts
& Crafts Home, can be credited with allowing on-going
accessibility to period (looking) pieces.
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (28 August 1833 - 17 June 1898)
was an English artist, closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelite
Brotherhood, and largely responsible for bringing the Pre-Raphaelites
into the mainstream of the British art world, while at the
same time executing some of the most exquisite and beautiful
artwork of the time.
Burne-Jones was born in Birmingham, England, the son of a
frame-maker at Bennetts Hill. His mother died within six days
of his being born, and he was raised by his father and an
unsympathetic housekeeper. He attended Birmingham's King Edward
VI grammar school, and then studied theology at Exeter College,
Oxford. At Oxford he became a friend of William Morris as
a consequence of a mutual interest in poetry, and was influenced
by John Ruskin. At this time he discovered Thomas Malory's
Le Morte d'Arthur which was to be so influential in his life.
He studied under Rossetti, but developed his own style influenced
by his travels in Italy with Ruskin and others. He had intended
to become a church minister, but under Morris's influence
decided to become an artist and designer instead. After Oxford,
from which he did not take a degree, he became closely involved
in the rejuvenation of the tradition of stained glass art
In 1856 Burne-Jones became engaged to Georgiana MacDonald
(1840-1920), one of the MacDonald sisters. She was training
to be a painter, and was the sister of Burne-Jones's old school
friend. The couple married in 1860, after which she made her
own work in woodcuts and became a close friend of George Eliot.
(Another MacDonald sister married the artist Sir Edward Poynter,
a further sister married the ironmaster Alfred Baldwin and
was the mother of the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, and
yet another sister was the mother of Rudyard Kipling. Kipling
and Baldwin were thus Burne-Jones's nephews).
In 1867 Burne-Jones and his wife settled in Fulham, London.
William Morris later fell in love with Georgiana, but she
rejected him. For much of the 1870s Burne-Jones did not exhibit,
following a spate of bitterly hostile attacks in the press,
and an affair with his Greek model Maria Zambaco which ended
with her trying to commit suicide in public. But, in 1877,
he was persuaded to show eight oil paintings at the Grosvenor
Gallery (a new rival to the Royal Academy show). These included
The Beguiling of Merlin. The timing was right, and he was
taken up as a herald and star of the new Aesthetic Movement.
As well as painting, he also worked in a variety of crafts;
including designing ceramic tiles, jewellery, tapestries,
book illustration (the Kelmscott Press's Chaucer in 1896),
and stage costumes.
In 1881 he received an honorary degree from Oxford, and was
made an Honorary Fellow in 1883. In 1885 he became the President
of the Birmingham Society of Artists. In 1894 he was knighted.
In the last few years of his life, his popularity again waned.
He is buried in Rottingdean churchyard, near Brighton, a place
he knew through summer family holidays. Long out-of-fashion
in the art world, due to Modernist art and Abstract Expressionism,
it was not until the mid 1970s that his work began to be re-assessed
and once again acclaimed.
Burne-Jones exerted a considerable influence on British painting,
as detailed in the large exhibition in 1989 at the Barbican
Art Gallery, London. (In book form as: John Christian, The
Last Romantics, (1989)). Burne-Jones was also highly influential
among French symbolist painters, from 1889. His work also
inspired poetry by Swinburne - Swinburne's 1886 Poems &
Ballads is dedicated to Burne-Jones.
His troubled son Philip (1861-1926) became a successful portrait
painter. His adored daughter Margaret (1866-1953) married
John William Mackail (1850-1945); friend and biographer of
William Morris, and Professor of Poetry at Oxford from 1911-1916.
Burne-Jones' studio assistant, Charles Fairfax Murray, went
on to a successful art career as a painter in his own right.
He later became an important collector and respected art dealer.
Between 1903 and 1907 he sold a great many works by Burne-Jones
and the Pre-Raphaelites to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery,
at far below their market worth. Birmingham Museum and Art
Gallery now has the largest collection of works by Burne-Jones
in the world, including the massive watercolour Star of Bethlehem,
commissioned for the Gallery in 1897. The paintings were a
strong influence on the young J.R.R. Tolkien, then growing
up in Birmingham.
FORD MADOX BROWN
Ford Madox Brown (April 16, 1821 - October 6, 1893) was an
English painter of moral and historical subjects, notable
for his distinctively graphic and often Hogarthian version
of the Pre-Raphaelite style. While he was closely associated
with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, he was never actually
a member. Nevertheless, he remained close to Dante Gabriel
Rossetti, with whom he also joined William Morris's design
company, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., in 1861.
One of his most famous images is "The Last of England",
a portrait of a pair of stricken emigrants as they sail away
on the ship that will take them from England forever. It was
inspired by the departure of the Pre-Raphaelite sculptor Thomas
Woolner, who had left for Australia. The painting is structured
with Brown's characteristic linear energy, and emphasis on
apparently grotesque and banal details, such as the cabbages
hanging from the ship's side.
Brown's most important painting was Work (1852-1865), which
he showed at a special exhibition. It attempted to depict
the totality of the mid-Victorian social experience in a single
image, depicting 'navvies' digging up a road, and disrupting
the old social hierarchies as they did so. The image erupts
into proliferating details from the dynamic centre of the
action, as the workers tear a hole in the road - and, symbolically,
in the social fabric. Each character represents a particular
social class and role in the modern urban environment. Brown
wrote a catalogue to accompany the special exhibition of Work.
This publication included an extensive explanation of Work
that nevertheless leaves many questions unanswered.
Brown's major achievement after Work was the cycle of twelve
paintings depicting the history of Manchester, England in
Manchester Town Hall. These present a partly ironic and satirical
view of Mancunian history.
His son Oliver Madox Brown (1855-1874) showed promise both
as an artist and poet, but died of blood-poisoning.
He was the grandfather of novelist Ford Madox Ford and great-grandfather
of Labour Home Secretary Frank Soskice.
Arthur Hughes (1831, London -1915) was an English painter
and illustrator associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
His best-known paintings are April Love and The Long Engagement,
both of which depict troubled couples contemplating the transience
of love and beauty. They are imitations of John Everett Millais's
earlier "couple" paintings but place far greater
emphasis on the pathos of human inability to maintain the
freshness of youthful feeling in comparison to the regenerative
power of nature.
Like Millais, Hughes also painted an Ophelia and illustrated
Keats's poem The Eve of St. Agnes. Hughes's version of the
latter is in the form of a secular triptych, a technique he
repeated for scenes from Shakespeare's As You Like It.
His works are noted for their magical, glowing colouring and
Hughes was in close contact to the writer George MacDonald
and illustrated some of his books.
Jane Burden (October 19, 1839 - January 1914) was the embodiment
of the Pre-Raphaelite ideal of beauty. She became the wife
of William Morris and the inspiration, and possibly mistress,
of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
She was born in Oxford. At the time of her birth, her father
Robert Burden was a stableman and lived with his wife (Jane's
mother), Ann Burden (formerly Maizey) at St. Helen's Passages,
St. Peter in the East, Oxford. Jane's mother, who was illiterate,
probably came to Oxford as a domestic servant. Little is known
about Jane's childhood but it was clearly one of poverty and
In October 1857, Jane and her sister Elizabeth (known in the
family as Bessie) were attending a performance in Oxford of
the Drury Lane Theatre Company. Jane was noticed by the artists
Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones who were part
of a group of artists painting murals in the Oxford Union
based on Arthurian tales. Struck by Jane's beauty, they sought
her to model for them. Jane initially sat mainly for Rossetti
who needed a model for Queen Guinivere. After this, Jane sat
to Morris who was working on an easel painting, La Belle Iseult
(Tate Gallery). During this period, Morris fell in love with
Jane and they were engaged.
Jane's education was extremely limited and she was probably
intended to go into domestic service. After her engagement,
Jane was privately educated. Her keen intelligence allowed
her essentially to re-create herself. She was a voracious
reader and became proficient in French and later Italian.
She also became an accomplished pianist with a strong background
in classical music. Her manners and speech became refined
to an extent that contemporaries referred to her as "Queenly."
Later in life, she would have no trouble moving in upper class
circles and she appears to have been the model for Mrs Higgins
in Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion (1914).
She married William Morris at St. Michael's Church, Oxford,
on April 26, 1859. Her father was at that time described as
a groom, in stables at 65 Holywell Street, Oxford.
Jane Burden and William Morris lived firstly at the Red House
in Bexleyheath, Kent. While at there, they had two daughters,
Jane Alice (Jenny) born January 1861 and Mary (May) (March
1862 - 1938), who was the editor of her father's works. They
then lived for many years at Kelmscott Manor, on the Oxfordshire-Wiltshire
borders, which is now open to the public. Jane became closely
attached to Rossetti and may, in addition to being his muse,
have been his lover.
In 1884, Jane met the poet and political activist Wilfrid
Scawen Blunt at a houseparty given by her close friend Rosalind
Howard (later Countess of Carlisle). There appears to have
been an immediate attraction between the two. By 1887 at the
latest, the pair had become lovers. Their sexual relationship
would continue until 1894 and they remained close friends
until Jane's death.
Jane Morris was an ardent supporter of Irish Home Rule.
William Morris died on 3 October 1896 at Kelmscott House,
Hammersmith, London. Jane died on 26 January 1914 while staying
at 5 Brock Street, Bath.
May Morris (1863-1938) (Mary Morris) was a British craftswoman
and designer. She was the younger daughter of the Pre-Raphaelite
artist and designer William Morris and Jane Burden Morris.
May Morris was an influential embroideress and designer, although
her contributions are often overshadowed by those of her father,
a towering figure in the Arts and Crafts movement. May learned
to embroider from her mother and her aunt Bessie Burden, who
had been taught by William Morris. Morris himself is credited
with the resurrection of free-form embroidery in the style
which would be termed art needlework. Art needlework emphasized
freehand stitching and delicate shading in silk thread, and
was thought to encourage self-expression in the needleworker;
this contrasted sharply with the brightly coloured Berlin
wool work needlepoint and its "paint by numbers"
aesthetic which had gripped much of home embroidery in the
May Morris was active in the Royal School of Art Needlework
(now Royal School of Needlework), founded as a charity in
1872 under the patronage of Princess Helena to maintain and
develop the art of needlework through structured apprenticeships.
May became the director of the embroidery department at Morris
& Co. in 1885, when she was in her early twenties.
She edited her father's collected works in 24 volumes for
Longmans, Green and Company, published 1910 to 1915, and also
commissioned two houses, as had her mother Jane, to be built
in the style that he loved after his death, and which are
still standing in the village of Kelmscott in the Cotswolds
JOHN WILLIAM WATERHOUSE
John William Waterhouse (April 6, 1849 - February 10, 1917)
was a British Pre-raphaelite painter most famous for his paintings
of female characters from mythology and literature. He belonged
to the later phase of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
He was born in Rome to the painters William and Isabela Waterhouse,
but when he was five the family moved to South Kensington,
near the newly founded Victoria and Albert Museum. He studied
painting under his father before entering the Royal Academy
schools in 1870. His early works were of classical themes
in the spirit of Alma-Tadema and Frederic Leighton, and were
exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Society of British Artists
and the Dudley Gallery.
In 1874, at the age of twenty-five, Waterhouse submitted the
classical allegory Sleep and His Half-Brother Death to the
Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition. The painting was very well
received and he exhibited at the RA almost every year afterwards
until his death in 1917. In 1883 he married Esther Kenworthy,
the daughter of an art schoolmaster from Ealing who had exhibited
her own flower-paintings at the Royal Academy and elsewhere.
They had two children, but both died in childhood.
In 1895 Waterhouse was elected to the status of full Academician.
He taught at the St. John's Wood Art School, joined the St
John's Wood Arts Club, and served on the Royal Academy Council.
One of Waterhouse's most famous paintings is The Lady of Shalott,
a study of Elaine of Astolat, who dies of grief when Lancelot
will not love her. He actually painted three different versions
of this character, in 1888, 1896, and 1916.
Another of Waterhouse's favorite subjects was Ophelia; the
most famous of his paintings of Ophelia depicts her just before
her death, putting flowers in her hair as she sits on a tree
branch leaning over a lake. Like The Lady of Shalott and other
Waterhouse paintings, it deals with a woman dying in or near
water. He also may have been inspired by paintings of Ophelia
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Millais. He submitted his Ophelia
painting of 1888 in order to receive his diploma from the
Royal Academy. (He had originally wanted to submit a painting
titled "A Mermaid", but it was not completed in
time.) After this, the painting was lost until the 20th century,
and is now displayed in the collection of Lord Lloyd-Webber.
Waterhouse would paint Ophelia again in 1894 and 1909 or 1910,
and planned another painting in the series, called "Ophelia
in the Churchyard."
Waterhouse could not finish the series of Ophelia paintings
because he was gravely ill with cancer by 1915. He died two
years later, and his grave can be found at Kensal Green Cemetery
JOHN WILLIAM GODWARD
John William Godward (August 9, 1861 - December 13, 1922)
was an English painter from the end of the Pre-Raphaelite
/ Neo-Classicist era. He was a protégé of Sir
Lawrence Alma-Tadema but his style of painting fell out of
favour with the arrival of painters like Picasso. He committed
suicide at the age of 61 and is said to have written in his
suicide note that "the world was not big enough"
for him and a Picasso.
His already estranged family, who had disapproved of him becoming
an artist, were ashamed of his suicide and burned his papers.
No photographs of Godward are known to survive.
Godward was born in 1861 and lived in Wilton Grove, Wimbledon.
He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1887. When he moved
to Italy with one of his models in 1912, his family broke
off all contact with him and even cut his image from family
pictures. Godward returned to England in 1919, died in 1922
and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, west London.
One of his best known paintings is Dolce far Niente (1904),
which currently resides in the collection of Andrew Lloyd
Webber. As in the case of several other paintings, Godward
painted more than one version, in this case an earlier (and
less well known) 1897 version.
Godward was a Victorian Neoclassicist, and therefore a follower
in theory of Frederick Leighton. However, he is more closely
allied stylistically to Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, with whom
he shared a penchant for the rendering of Classical architecture,
in particular, static landscape features constructed from
marble. The vast majority of Godward's extant images feature
women in Classical dress, posed against these landscape features,
though there are some semi-nude and fully nude figures included
in his oeuvre (a notable example being In The Tepidarium (1913),
a title shared with a controversial Alma-Tadema painting of
the same subject that resides in the Lady Lever Art Gallery).
The titles reflect Godward's source of inspiration: Classical
civilisation, most notably that of Ancient Rome (again a subject
binding Godward closely to Alma-Tadema artistically), though
Ancient Greece sometimes features, thus providing artistic
ties, albeit of a more limited extent, with Leighton.
Given that Classical scholarship was more widespread among
the potential audience for his paintings during his lifetime
than in the present day, meticulous research of detail was
important in order to attain a standing as an artist in this
genre. Alma-Tadema was, as well as a painter, an archaeologist
who attended historical sites and collected artefacts that
were later used in his paintings: Godward, too, studied such
details as architecture and dress, in order to ensure that
his works bore the stamp of authenticity. In addition, Godward
painstakingly and meticulously rendered those other important
features in his paintings, animal skins (the paintings Noon
Day Rest (1910) and A Cool Retreat (1910) contain superb examples
of such rendition) and wild flowers (Nerissa (1906), illustrated
above, and Summer Flowers (1903) are again excellent examples
The appearance of beautiful women in studied poses in so many
of Godward's canvases causes many newcomers to his works to
categorise him mistakenly as being Pre-Raphaelite, particularly
as his palette is often a vibrantly colourful one. However,
the choice of subject matter (ancient civilisation versus,
for example, Arthurian legend) is more properly that of the
victorian Neoclassicist: however, it is appropriate to comment
that in common with numerous painters contemporary with him,
Godward was a 'High Victorian Dreamer', producing beautiful
images of a world which, it must be said, was idealised and
romanticised, and which in the case of both Godward and Alma-Tadema
came to be criticised as a world-view of 'Victorians in togas'.
FREDERIC LORD LEIGHTON
Frederic Leighton, 1st Baron Leighton (3 December 1830-25
January 1896) was an English painter and sculptor. His works
depicted historical, biblical and classical subject matter.
Leighton was born in Scarborough. He was educated at University
College School London. He received his artistic training on
the European continent, first from Edward von Steinle and
then from Giovanni Costa. When in Florence, aged 24, where
he studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti, he painted the
procession of the Cimabue Madonna through the Borgo Allegri.
He lived in Paris from 1855 to 1859, where he met Ingres,
Delacroix, Corot, and Millet. In 1860, he moved to London,
where he associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. He designed
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's tomb for Robert Browning in the
'English' Cemetery, Florence, 1861. In 1864 he became an associate
of the Royal Academy and in 1878 he became its president.
His 1877 sculpture, Athlete Wrestling with a Python, was considered
at its time to inaugurate a renaissance in contemporary British
sculpture, referred to as the New Sculpture.
Leighton was knighted at Windsor in 1878, and was created
a baronet eight years later. He was the first painter to be
given a peerage, in the New Year Honours List of 1896. The
patent creating him Baron Leighton, of Stretton in the County
of Salop, was issued on 24 January 1896; Leighton died the
next day of angina pectoris. As he was unmarried his Barony
was extinguished after existing for only a day; this is an
all-time record in the Peerage. His house in Holland Park,
London has been turned into a museum, the Leighton House Museum.
It contains a number of his drawings and paintings.
Algernon Charles Swinburne (April 5, 1837 - April 10, 1909)
was a Victorian era English poet. His poetry was highly controversial
in its day, much of it containing recurring themes of sadomasochism,
death-wish, lesbianism and anti-Christian sentiments.
Swinburne was born in London, and raised on the Isle of Wight,
and at Capheaton Hall, near Wallington, Northumberland. He
attended Eton college and then Balliol College, Oxford but
had the rare distinction (like Oscar Wilde) of being rusticated
from the university in 1859. He was associated with the Pre-Raphaelite
movement, and counted among his best friends Dante Gabriel
He is considered a decadent poet, albeit that he professed
to perhaps rather more vice than he actually indulged in,
a fact which Oscar Wilde notably and acerbically commented
Many of his early and still admired poems evoke the Victorian
fascination with the Middle Ages, and some of them are explicitly
medieval in style, tone and construction, these representatives
notably being "The Leper," "Laus Veneris,"
and "St Dorothy".
He was an alcoholic and a highly excitable character. His
health suffered as a result, until he finally broke down and
was taken into care by his friend Theodore Watts, who looked
after him for the rest of his life in Putney. Thereafter he
lost his youthful rebelliousness and developed into a figure
of social respectability.
His vocabulary, rhyme and metre arguably make him one of the
best poets of the English language; but his poetry has been
criticized as overly flowery and meaningless, choosing words
to fit the rhyme rather than to contribute towards meaning.
Works include: Atalanta in Calydon, Tristram of Lyonesse,
Poems and Ballads (series I, II and III -- these contain most
of his more controversial works), Songs Before Sunrise, Lesbia
Brandon (novel published posthumously).
He also wrote poems in favour of the unification of Italy,
particularly in the volume Songs before Sunrise. His work
was very popular among undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge,
though today it has largely gone out of fashion. This, at
least, is the current popular and even the academic view of
the decline of Swinburne's reputation, but it contains some
In fact Swinburne's Poems and Ballads, First Series and his
Atalanta in Calydon have never been out of critical favor.
It was Swinburne's misfortune that the two works, published
when he was nearly 30, soon established him as England's premier
poet, the successor to Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning.
This was a position he held in the popular mind until his
death, but sophisticated critics like A. E. Housman felt,
rightly or wrongly, that the job of being one of England's
very greatest poets was beyond him.
Swinburne may have felt this way himself. He was a highly
intelligent man and in later life a much-respected critic,
and he himself believed that the older a man was, the more
cynical and less trustworthy he became. Swinburne may have
been one of the first people not to trust anyone over thirty.
This of course created problems for him after he himself passed
After the first Poems and Ballads, Swinburne's later poetry
is devoted more to politics and philosophy. He does not utterly
stop writing love poetry, but he is far less shocking. His
versification, and especially his rhyming technique, remain
masterful to the end. He is the virtual star of the third
volume of George Saintsbury's famous History of English Prosody,
and Housman, a more measured and even somewhat hostile critic,
devoted paragraphs of praise to his rhyming ability.
INFORMATION FROM WIKIPEDIA
A BRIEF DIRECTORY OF COTSWOLD SCHOOL FURNITURE
PHILIP CLISSETT (1817-1913)
ERNEST GIMSON (1864-1919)
ERNEST BARNSLEY (1863-1926)
SIDNEY BARNSLEY (1865-1926)
HARRY PEACH (1874-1936)
PETER VAN DER WAALS (1870-1937)
ARTHUR ROMNEY GREEN (1872-1945)
ERIC SHARPE (1888-1966)
STANLEY WEBB DAVIES (1894-1978)
EDWARD BARNSLEY (1900-1987)
W. HARRY E. DAVOLL (1876-1963)
FRED GARDINER (1890-19630
GORDON RUSSELL (1892-1980)
trained by a former Edward Barnsley pupil and some-time employee
Oliver Morel (1916 - 2003). Morel, was based in Moreton-in-Marsh
about the same time as Hugh Birkett. Morel specialized in
raised inlays, and was commissioned to make a cabinet in 1972
for Rodmarton Manor. The cabinet features 12 oval panels,
each illustrating a different flowering plant. The pair were
friends from 1947 until Birkett's death. Morel was also responsible
for Eric Sharpe's work being represented at the Arts &
Crafts museum in Cheltenham. Although not all are currently
on display the Museum have some pieces by Birkett and a casket
by Morel in their collection. Thank you to Peter Rushen for
ALAN PETERS (1933 -)
JOHN MAKEPEACE (1939-)
TONY MCMULLEN (1942-)
Please let me know if I have omitted any designer or maker
that should be included.