Posts Tagged ‘Victorian Vendredis’

La Belle Iseult (1858) by William Morris (1834-1896).  Oil on canvas. Tate Britain.

La Belle Iseult (1858) by William Morris (1834-1896). Oil on canvas. Tate Britain.

I’ve always been impressed by the (first and second wave) Pre-Raphaelites’ many talents. They were not just artists, and as a lifelong student of languages (medieval languages in particular), William Morris’ work in translating Old French and Old Norse romances and epics, is of particular interest. When I first began researching the use of original medieval works by the Pre-Raphaelites, I was focusing more on such use in their art. Morris’ only painting, of Janey Morris as La Belle Iseult, is an obvious example (look to the left). (more…)

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At Feather and Claw, Wilton Music Hall.

Victorian costume thrown together following a rummage in my wardrobe: at Feather and Claw, Wilton Music Hall, March 2011

I would have started my regular series of blog posts, Medieval Monday, the Mid-week Museum, and Victorian Vendredi, last week, were it not for the fact that, in addition to Chartership portfolio questing, job searching, and getting (re)settled here at home, someone mentioned the web comic Questionable Content in an email. (more…)

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I’m just back from the wonderful CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections annual conference at Canterbury Cathedral, and, while I have so much to write about, I’m in Conference Recovery Time. So today’s Victorian Vendredi is a bit of a cheat – a reblog of Culture and Anarchy’s great post celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Pre-Raphaelite Society.

Congratulations! I hope you’ve celebrated well!

Culture and Anarchy

OpheliaThe Pre-Raphaelites are everywhere at the moment – on hoardings, on TV, in books and magazines, it seems as though we have revived our love affair with the decadent colours and lush imagery of the Victorian painters – and even those who hate them (and there are plenty who do) still seem to find them interesting. If you are a fan, you may be a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Society, which is celebrating 25 years of existence this year. The Society aims to promote the study of and interest in Pre-Raphaelitism, and is an international society with members all over the world. It’s open to everyone – there are members who are just interested, to serious collectors and academics, so the aim is to cater for everyone. The society holds a series of lectures in Birmingham (details of which are here) as well as trips to places or exhibitions…

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Given that I am currently at the family seat, and have just finished watching Brave, today’s Victorian Vendredi will out of necessity have a Scottish flavour. Queen Victoria herself, as any self-respecting fan of Dr Who, lycanthropy-themed episodes in particular, will know, greatly enjoyed her holidays at Balmoral Castle, describing it in her diaries as “my dear paradise in the Highlands”. But I don’t plan to speak of royal pursuits today, nor of the interference of time-travellers in said pursuits. (more…)

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Some friends from home arrived today for a long weekend, the last weekend before Scottish children begin another school year. It’s great to have them here, but we’re not planning to run around exhausting all things touristy, rather having a relaxed and relaxing few days. Perhaps something as in the image below, albeit with less millinery and hoops.

Au Jardin de Luxembourg,  Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1883, oil on canvas, private collection (via Bridgeman Education Library)

Au Jardin de Luxembourg, Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1883, oil on canvas, private collection (via Bridgeman Education Library)

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Joseph Perrier Cave, Châlons-en-Champagne (via Châlons Office de Tourisme)

In July 1992, following a school trip to Châlons-en-Champagne (then called Châlons-sur-Marne, I went to stay with my cousin in London for a week. The place I most wanted to visit was Tate Britain. I had heard so much about its collections, but had never visited it. I’d loved Victorian art since I first encountered Sir Frank Dicksee’s La Belle Dame Sans Merci (c.1902). I’ve never seen the original painting, but since first seeing a print thereof, I’ve said that her dress would be the dress I’d want to wear to my wedding. I was about ten years old then; since I was about 15, it’s probably more accurate to say that I would love to wear such dresses every day. Dicksee was inspired by John Keats’ poem of the same title, which I’ve been told was taken from a 15th century poem of the same title but different subject matter.

La Belle Dame Sans Merci, by Sir Frank Dicksee (c.1902)

La Belle Dame Sans Merci, by Sir Frank Dicksee (c.1902)

But the painting that began my uninterrupted romance with Victorian art, with the Pre-Raphaelites in particular, was one that I saw on that first visit to Tate Britain, so many years ago. I knew before then that I liked their work, and I had seen this particular painting in small-scale art prints over and over again. But I had never seen it in all its original glory. I’ve never stopped looking at it since that day.

The Lady of Shalott, by John William Waterhouse (oil on canvas, 1888, Tate Britain)

This painting made me into the Victorian Librarian long before I knew it was so.

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London in a heatwave (officially!) is the worst time and place in which to be. I’m craving cold, ice, and snow, with the warmth that comes from thick coats, hats, and scarves. I want to be iceskating in Victorian times. I want to be dressed like the woman below as I skate.


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