Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Magic behind the Magic...

This book was a Christmas present which, on opening, I nearly wept over. Not to sound overly dramatic or anything (I really did almost cry) but I was overwhelmed at having such a beautiful book in my possession which I first came across, and had instantly coveted,  in the obligatory gift shop at the Tate Britain's Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde exhibition (check out this online review of it). The pages of this book are just pure inspiration to me; filled as they are with the romantic work of the Pre-Raphaelites. But what makes it even more so is that it focuses on the sketchbooks, drawings, and preliminary work of these great artists rather then the final artworks themselves. It's rather like the unveiling of a magic trick or behind-the-scenes footage of a film. However, instead of being disappointed at the seeming simplicity of an ostensibly incomprehensible trick, it is reassuring to see the super-human talents of these artists be made more human in the revealing of the work that lies behind such beautiful finished pieces of art. In flicking through this book such phrases as "but those are the kind of confusing scribbles I have in my sketchbook!" spring to mind and, although I could not hope to achieve such skill in oil painting, it is pleasantly thrilling to think that I'm at the right beginning and to see my idols brought a little closer to earth. 

 Top: Simeon Solomon, A Pre-Raphaelite Studio fantasy. Bottom left and right: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Caricatures of William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. Page 25 of Pre-Raphaelite Drawing by Colin Cruise.
 John Everett Millais, Study of the Head of Elizabeth Siddal for "Ophelia". Page 58 of Pre-Raphaelite Drawing by Colin Cruise.
 Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Fanny Cornforth. Page 94 of Pre-Raphaelite Drawing by Colin Cruise.
 John Everett Millais, Recto and Verso of a Sheet of Studies. Page 125 of Pre-Raphaelite Drawing by Colin Cruise.
  John Everett Millais, Study for "The Order of Release". Page 125 of Pre-Raphaelite Drawing by Colin Cruise.

1 comment:

  1. Oh! I completely understand the bliss and pleasure of a beautiful book. And seeing those early moments, those hints of confusion from great artists is definitely a calming and comforting reality.