Back in the days before the internet, you would discover an author, love them and then not be able to find any more of their work. If you did you were ecstatic. Or you would see a painting, love it and, over time, hunt down everything you could find out about the artist, their other work, their time period etc. That was what it was like for me with the Pre-Raphaelites. Their artwork resonated with me.
The day I found this painting, I was hooked. Of course now, all I have to do is google it to find out the background. There’s a whole Wikipedia page on The Lady of Shallot. Which would lead me to the Wiki page for Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. And from there, I could gorge myself on their beautiful paintings.
Which of course has it own Wiki page. Their paintings were shocking at the time, confronting in their choice of subject, composition and realism. I’ve always loved them for their richness of detail, the beautiful colour and the way they seem to capture a moment in time.
The women of the Pre-Raphaelite paintings are exquisite. There was a TV series, Merlin, (1998) which took inspiration from the paintings to occasionally frame and light the women. While watching it I got a little thrill each time I saw a homage to the Pre-Raphaelites.
But the Pre-Raphaelites were not just about painting beautiful women. You can’t get much more obsessive than Hunt’s The Scapegrace.
Then there’s the arts and crafts. The brotherhood formed at a time when factories were mass producing products. They preferred the work of craftsmen. (Link through to William Morris Arts and Crafts).
And then, if you haven’t had enough of the Pre-Raphaelites, watch Desperate Romantics. Heaps of fun. Not strictly accurate with time lines etc, but full of life and passion.
This is another one of those paintings that I saw once and never forgot.