Tag Archives: Isabella and the Pot of Basil

Note on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the following images!!

“The Black Brunswicker” (1860) by John Everett Millais

“Isabella and the Pot of Basil” (1868) by William Holman Hunt

“Found” (1865–1869, unfinished) by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

One of my more recent obsessions is with the artists know as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, it’s most famous members being John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Like many of my obsessions, the Pre-Raphaelites have been floating around the periphery of my awareness for some time, perhaps years. My interest was peaked only recently (this spring) by the Legion of Honor‘s stunning exhibit “The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde 1860 – 1900,” featuring works by not only the Pre-Raphaelites but also their contemporaries, students, and successors (including William Morris, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Oscar Wilde, Aubrey Beardsley, etc.). This exhibit picked up the threads of some other interests of mine, such as Charles Dickens’s companion and fellow writer Wilkie Collins (The Moonstone, The Woman in White, etc.). The exhibit also inspired me to dig deeper into the lives of these eccentric Victorian “Renaissance” men!

An easy way to learn more about the Pre-Raphaelites is through the BBC six-part series Desperate Romantics (2009), featuring a cast of lovely men and women (Aidan Turner, Rafe Spall, and Amy Manson to name a few) and gorgeous period costumes. While at times exuding a contemporary (as in 21st century) feel in the vein of Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette (2006), the series is very painstakingly researched yet thoroughly enjoyable to watch. It’s a series I’m just itching to re-watch and show to all my friends.

Aidan Turner as Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Another wonderful way to enjoy the Pre-Raphaelites is through the online comic Pre-Raphernalia: The Pre-Raph Sketchbook Cartoons of Raine Szramski (preraphernalia.blogspot.com). This series is another painstakingly researched yet thoroughly enjoyable journey into the bizarre history of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, with plenty of cameos by Rossetti’s pet wombat named “Top.”

My most recent encounter with the Pre-Raphaelites is surprisingly through the British footwear brand Dr. Martens. Dr. Martens has teamed up with Liberty of London to create shoes and purses featuring William Morris’s celebrated “Strawberry Thief” textile design. My birthday’s coming up, so I’m hoping to get my paws on one of these timeless purses!

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Copyright 2012 by G. E. Gallas


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