On Monday and Tuesday, I was finding it extremely difficult to get motivated after having a lovely weekend off with my family.
However, we are half way through the week and I have made some okay progress; I have primed a canvas and started working on another painting from the 'Ritual' series, which should hopefully be finished by the end of next week if I stick to it, without going impatient and crazy!
I have also made some progress and starting to get really excited about my dissertation too.
I have started to write about Pre-Raphaelite Art and Victorian painting and how the artists depicted Victorian Culture and Society.
Here's a large section of my essay:
In the beginning of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, the members sought a way of contemporarily dealing with Victorian Society as a whole by painting socially correct, realistic art work. However, they did this by representing a somewhat fantastical/ false reality in their paintings; paintings that are suggested to be religious or mythical, most with a very romantic ideal. I believe that the Pre-Raphaelites were actually trying to escape modern civilization through their imagination, poetry, use of drawing and painting.
“….the group which was most deeply influenced by purely aesthetic considerations, the Pre-Raphaelites, often interpolated a strong story element in their paintings, with moral or emotional implications, and a fascination with enigmatic or puzzling titles for their pictures”
John Hadfield, Every Picture Tells a Story: Images of Victorian Life, page 11.
John Hadfield suggests that many of the subjects and ideas in Pre-Raphaelite paintings weren’t accurately representing Victorian society and culture; identifying that their subjects were enhanced for a better visual response.
Sir John Everett Millais’ painting ‘Bubbles’ (Originally entitled ‘A Child’s World’) 1886 is a clear example of John Hadfield’s theory. The painting, at first, appears to be an innocent, somewhat nostalgic piece of work; a little boy blowing bubbles to entertain himself, this kind of subject can appeal to anyone as it is relatable and seems to be comforting. However when you fully observe the work, the painting has a controversial message. It actually depicts a little boy, (Millais’ grandson) sat comfortably on what seems to be a charred oak beam or log with one of his feet supporting him on the ground. The boy is peering up at a bubble; there is a look of fear on his face, anticipating the providence of it, as though he is aware that this bubble could pop at any moment, losing its life.
“Millais was using a symbol with a long tradition behind it. ‘Bubbles’ are fragile and have a brief moment of beauty before they burst. In the 17th century Dutch artists painted children blowing bubbles to convey the brevity of human life, the transience of beauty and the inevitability of death.”
Artwork of the Month feature-2006 Lady Lever Art Gallery; www.nationalmuseumsliverpool.org.uk/picture-of-month/displaypicture.asp?venue=7&id=299 18th January 2012.
There are also two plant pots on either side of the boy. One of which is closer and apparent to the viewer of the painting, is shattered on the floor, with a couple of lifeless leaves and defeated sticks resting on the floor below him.
On the other side of the boy, there is the other plant pot, standing upright, holding a plant, green and growing; living. However this part of the composition is painted rather ambiguously, to go almost unnoticed to the eye of the viewer, suggesting a questionable existence, similar to the idea of the bubble.
It is believed that these fate questioning ideas are related to the large amount of child death during the Victorian century due to Scarlet Fever and measles, although there were many advances in medicine and technology in the 1800s, healthcare and medicine was expensive and unattainable to the poor.
“When Scarlet fever was a greatly feared illness and took the lives of many children, its possible the painting implies how even at such a tender age life is just as delicate.”
Katherine Cox “Bubbles, Painted by John Everett Millais” December 5th 2011. www.novembersautumn.blogspot.com 18th January 2012.
John Everett Millais has created a painting that deals with a contemporary subject, however by using a child as the subject, he has created a sympathetic and attractive approach to the idea. This is a romantic view of a distressing subject, relevant to Victorian life and culture. He has manipulated the viewer with a constant hypocrisy throughout painting.
Like I said, I'm really enjoying learning about this subject, and it's so exciting discovering new things.
don't forget that I now have a new blog on blogspot if you want to follow it, the link is here