Alma-Tadema, Sir Lawrence(1836–1912)
Alma-Tadema was born in Dronriip, Holland, and studied at the Antwerp Academy. At the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war in 1870, he moved to London. There he established himself as one of the greatest Victorian painters of scenes from classical antiquity. He was made a British "denizen" (in effect, an honorary British citizen) in 1873, and was knighted in 1899. He had great success at the Royal Academy, being elected A.R.A. in 1876, and full R.A. in 1879.
Boyce, George Price (1826–1897)
Boyce was born in London, to a father who became a successful pawnbroker. His father's success was such that Boyce always had independent financial means and was not dependent on art for his livelihood. This financial independence also allowed him to amass a considerable collection of art by his contemporaries—notably D. G. Rossetti (who was a close friend), and an eclectic range of other European artworks. Boyce first met Ruskin on April 21st 1854, and remained in contact with him.1
John Brett was the son of an army veterinary surgeon, and received lessons in art from James Duffield Harding and Richard Redgrave (both very important Victorian painters). He entered the Royal Academy schools in 1854. During this time he became interested in the ideas of John Ruskin, and also fell under the influence of William Holman Hunt. He visited Switzerland, and came under the further influence of John William Inchbold.
Brett exhibited The Stonebreaker at the Royal Academy in 1858. It is a work lacking the social critique of Courbet's treatment of the same theme, focusing instead on the natural setting of the stonebreaker's work. The brilliant detail (and its geological and botanical precision) made a great impression upon Ruskin—so much so that he was motivated to partly fund a visit by Brett to the Val d'Aosta in Italy. The resulting work was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1859 and was purchased by Ruskin.
The remainder of Brett's career was dominated by landscape work—with an emphasis on coastal scenes, seascapes, and river views. His career was very successful until the 1890s. He was even able to buy a 210 ton schooner, "Viking" (with a crew of twelve).
He had already travelled in Italy again in the 1860s, and was now able to cruise the Mediteranean, and the coastlines of the British Isles. He had a special attachment to Wales, renting, and subsequently owning, property there.
Brown, Madox Ford (1821–1893)
Ford Madox Brown was born to British parents in Calais, France. The family was not wealthy, and Brown's childhood involved considerable travel between countries. He received his artistic training at academies in Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp between 1835 and 1839. He became especially interested in portrait and history painting.
In 1840, Brown married his cousin Elisabeth Bromley (1818–1846). She died in 1846, leaving Brown with a daughter Emma Lucy Madox Brown. During 1845–46, Brown was in Basel (where he came across the work of Hans Holbein) and Italy. He came into contact with the German Nazarene painters before settling in London in 1846. He met the artists who were to form the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and for a time Rossetti was his pupil. Though he was not a formal member of the Brotherhood, he often exhibited with them, and his work has great affinity with theirs in terms of both style and subject-matter.
Brown did occasional work for William Morris's company designing stained glass, and, like Morris, became a staunch socialist. His most important single painting is Work (1856−1862) which represents an extraordinary cross section of contemporary Victorian society. In his lifetime he was not financially successful to any high degree, though he did an important commissioned series of historical murals for Manchester Town Hall in 1878.
Burne-Jones, Sir Edward Coley (1833–1898)
The original surname of Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones was simply "Jones." Sometime in the late 1870s he put a hyphen between this and his middle name "Burne," so as to create a composite surname that would allow him to be distinguished from the many other artists called Jones.
Born in Birmingham, Burne-Jones studied at the Birmingham School of Art from 1848–1852, before going to Exeter College (in Oxford University) to read Theology. He met William Morris there, and the two of them shared a love for the work of Tennyson and Ruskin. Both he and Morris decided to become artists, and left University without taking a degree. He did early experiments in painting on vellum, and was involved in a technically unsuccessful project for frescoes in the Oxford Union building (Morris, and Rossetti amongst others, were also involved in this). From 1861, he was a partner in the firm Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. They specialized in producing chintzes, carvings, cabinet paintings, carpets, paper-hangings, and—of special importance—stained glass. Burne-Jones produced vast numbers of stained glass designs and studies for stained glass. (His personal account book for the time he served as a working partner is held in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.) He ceased to be a partner when the company reorganized in 1875, but continued to produce designs for stained-glass, and illustrations for Morris's books, after the reorganization. These designs and his other work were strongly influenced by Rossetti, and Sienese painting, and the poetic medievalism of Tennyson.
From the 1860s he was active as both watercolourist and oil painter. 1877 was a year of particular success for him when, at the opening of the Grosvenor Gallery, his important works Days of Creation, The Beguiling of Merlin, and The Mirror of Venus were exhibited for the first time. He was also successful with private commissions, such as The Briar Rose series for Buscot Park in Oxfordshire.
Burne-Jones was elected an Associate R.A. in 1885, but did not have a comfortable relationship with the Academy. He exhibited only one work there (in 1886), and, in 1893, formally resigned his membership. However, he received widespread recognition during his lifetime including an Honorary degree from Oxford University in 1881, and a baronetcy (i.e. a hereditary honour carrying the title "Sir") from Queen Victoria in 1894. On his death, a memorial service was held in Westminster Abbey.
The visionary aesthetic of Burne-Jones's particular approach to Pre-Raphaelite "fuller Nature" is memorably evoked in the following. "I mean by a picture, a beautiful romantic dream of something that never was, never will be—in a light better than any light that ever shone—in a land no one can define or remember, only desire, and the forms divinely beautiful…"2
Calderon, Philip Hermogenes (1833–1898)
Calderon was of Spanish ancestry and became one of the most important members of the "St. John's Wood Clique"—a group of painters committed to affirming the importance of historical genre painting. He was made an Associate Member of the Royal Academy in 1864, and a full member in 1867.
Collinson, James (1825–1881)
Born at Mansfield, Collinson was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Whilst studying at the Royal Academy Schools, he was invited by Rossetti to join the Brotherhood as a result of the positive impression made by The Charity Boy's Debut, exhibited at the R.A. in 1847. A strong preference for genre work in the tradition of Wilkie set him far apart from the other Pre-Raphaelites fondness for literary and romantic historical subjects. However, Collinson's role in the Brotherhood has not really been fully understood, mainly because one of the key sources of knowledge of him is Holman Hunt—who clearly did not hold him in high regard. The majority of references in Holman Hunt's memoirs are sarcastic (dwelling especially on Collinson's capacity to fall asleep even during convivial gatherings) (see, for example, Holman Hunt 162–63). However, it is clear from references throughout William Michael Rossetti's journal, that however physically tired Collinson might have got, he was a fairly active and enthusiastic participant in the PRB during the time of his membership.3
That membership came to an end in 1850. Collinson was a Roman Catholic convert. He had briefly returned to the Church of England in order to become engaged to Christina Rossetti. However, when the Pre-Raphaelite works in the 1850 R.A. exhibition were widely criticized on religious grounds, Collinson seems to have re-converted to Catholicism. In a letter to D. G. Rossetti dated Whit Monday (20th May) of that year, Collinson resigned from the Brotherhood, because he felt that continued membership would be inconsistent with his Roman Catholic faith (see The P.R.B. Journal 71).
In 1852, Collinson gave up art and entered Stonyhurst College in Lancashire as a novice Jesuit. After two years spent there and at Beaumont (near Windsor), he left the Jesuit order and took up art again—devoting the rest of his career to genre scenes. Of particular interest are what might be called his enigma studies of the 1850s. These involve compositions dominated by a single human figure presented frontally. The figure addresses the viewer in a way that invites us to consider exactly what the figure is doing and/or thinking.
Cope, Charles West (1811–1890)
Cope was born in Leeds and entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1828. In 1832 Cope went to Paris and from 1833 spent two years in Italy. Before his departure, and on his return, he enjoyed considerable success at the Royal Academy exhibitions, and was elected an Associate member in 1843, and then a full Royal Academician in 1848. The central focus of Cope's career was his work for the Houses of Parliament. He contributed numerous pictures between 1844 and 1869. In works other than this project, his favoured themes were historical, literary, bourgeois, and courtly genre.
Daniels, William (1813–1881)
William Daniels was born in Liverpool, and spent most of his life in that city and the surrounding areas. He received some artistic instruction from a local portraitist, and some training as a wood-engraver. Daniels's work was exhibited at least twice at the Royal Academy exhibition (in 1840 and 1846), but he made a living through commissions from a local clientele. H. C. Marillier notes that Daniels could have had many more such commissions "but an unfortunate taste for low life and convivial associations spoilt his chances and destroyed his excellent promise" (96). That being said, Daniels did develop a distinctive emphasis on chiaroscuro effects that were likened by his contemporaries to Rembrandt's.
Davis, William (1812–1873)
William Davis was born in Dublin, and studied at the Dublin Royal Society classes. After working in Dublin as a portrait artist, he moved to Liverpool, becoming an associate member of the Liverpool Academy in 1851, and a full member in 1854. From 1856 he was Professor of Drawing there. During the 1850s Davis abandoned figure-based studies and devoted himself to landscape. He is widely regarded as one of the most important landscape artists to work in a Pre-Raphaelite style. His works were occasionally exhibited at the Royal Academy in London, and Davis was on friendly terms with all the main members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and their circle. However, he disliked art dealers and refused to work for them. It may be that this, and his emphatic attention to natural detail, prevented him from getting the recognition which he was widely regarded as deserving (see Marillier 99–113). After the dissolution of the Liverpool Academy, he moved to London in 1870, and developed a somewhat broader style.
De Morgan, Mary Evelyn (1855–1919)
Born as Mary Evelyn Pickering, she was trained at the Slade School of Art in London, and was extremely well regarded as an artist, even though she did not exhibit widely or sell many works. In 1887 she married William De Morgan, an artist who became one of the most celebrated masters of ceramics in the late Victorian Arts and Crafts movement. Evelyn's painting is exceptional for the major roles assigned to female figures in her compositions. In this respect, it is notable that four of the eight wall hangings represent distinguished female biblical figures.
Egg, Augustus Leopold (1816–1863)
Augustus Egg was born in London and studied at Sass's Academy before entering the Royal Academy Schools in 1836. By 1837, he was a member of "The Clique"—a drawing club consisting of Richard Dadd, W. P. Frith, Henry O'Neil, John Phillip, Edward Matthew Ward, Alfred Elmore, and others. They were opposed to Academic classical ideals, and wished to follow in the footsteps of Hogarth and Wilkie by developing an indigenous genre art. Egg's works are mainly in the field of literary and historical genre, especially Shakespeare. He could do humorous scenes or ones with more serious overtones. In the 1840s he found success, and was elected A.R.A. in 1848, and full R.A. in 1860.
Members of "The Clique"—especially O'Neil—were generally hostile to Pre-Raphaelitism, though a majority of them (including O'Neil, himself ) eventually incorporated aspects of its "fuller Nature" into their own work. Egg was more sympathetic, and showed personal kindness to Holman Hunt at a time when the younger artist was struggling to find commissions. In fact, Egg appears to have been much liked by his fellow artists. He was also a close friend of Charles Dickens—frequently acting in the amateur theatrical performances that Dickens sometimes staged to benefit charities. His paintings were frequently praised for their historical accuracy.
Egley, William Maw (1826–1916)
Egley was a prolific and extremely skilful London artist who never achieved significant fame. He specialized in literary and contemporary social genre scenes.
Elmore, Alfred (1815–1881)
Alfred Elmore He was born in Clonakilty, co. Cork, on 18th June, 1815, into an Irish Protestant family. Entering the Royal Acdemy Schools in 1832, he first exhibited at the R.A. Exhibition in 1834. During the late 1830s he spent much time in Paris, whilst continuing to exhibit in the UK. He came in contact with Frith, Dadd, Phillip, and Egg, and was a member of "The Clique." In the early 1840s he spent much time in Italy. He was elected an A.R.A. in 1845, and full R.A. in 1857. Elmore specialized in literary and historical genre, and other genre scenes representing technological invention. From 1868 he frequently exhibited scenes from the Bible.
Etty, William (1787–1849)
William Etty was born in York, but trained at the Royal Academy Schools in London. He had success as a history painter, and established himself as one of the greatest painters of the nude figure in nineteenth-century Europe. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1824, and Full Member in 1828.
Goetze, Sigismund Christian Hubert (1866−1939)
Despite his German-sounding name, Goetze was born in London to parents of German ancestry. He attended the Royal Academy Schools and first exhibited at the annual R.A. exhibition when he was 22. In his lifetime he enjoyed a large fortune, and was known as a philanthropist in the area of St. Johns Wood (London) where he lived.
Goodall, Frederick (1822–1904)
Born in London, Frederick Goodall had early success at the Royal Academy exhibitions, and was elected an A.R.A. in 1852 and a full R.A. in 1863. In autumn of 1858, Goodall went to Egypt and stayed for seven months. Together with another artist, Carl Haag, he rented a house in the old Coptic quarter of Cairo. The two made frequent journeys to the countryside, crossed the desert to Suez, and camped out for weeks with Bedouin tribesmen. Goodall made a second visit to Egypt in 1870. From the sketches brought back from these journeys, Goodall was able to produce finished oil paintings of biblical scenes and images from Egyptian life in prolific numbers. He made a considerable fortune. However, the art market fell into decline after the 1880s and Goodall went bankrupt in 1902.
Goodwin, Albert (1845–1932)
Goodwin was born in Maidstone, Kent. He was a prolific painter in watercolours especially, and was much favoured by Ruskin.
Herkomer, Sir Hubert (1849–1914)
Herkomer was born in Bavaria, but his family emigrated to the USA (1851), and then to Southampton in the UK (1857). He was educated at Southampton school of art, and at the more well-known South Kensington School in London. In 1879 he became Associate member of the Royal Academy, and in 1890, a full academician. His range of work is very broad—from history painting and portraits to contemporary genre and social realism. He created an important art school, and was also a pioneer filmmaker in the UK (though none of his creations in that medium appear to survive).
Holiday, Henry George (1839–1927)
Born in London, Holiday attended the Royal Academy Schools in 1855, after earlier training at Leigh's School. His first exhibit at the Royal Academy Exhibition was in 1858. Holiday was much influenced by Burne-Jones in his treatment of historical subjects. Working for James Powell and Co. from 1861, he did over three hundred designs for stained glass windows, and eventually, in 1891, set up his own studio in Hampstead (London) specializing in stained glass, enamel, and cognate crafts.
Hughes, Arthur (1832–1915)
Arthur Hughes was born in London, and in 1846 studied at the School of Design there. From 1847 Hughes attended the Royal Academy Schools, winning a silver medal in 1849. In 1850, he read the Pre-Raphaelite journal The Germ, and this—together with his personal acquaintance with figures such as D. G. Rossetti, Holman Hunt, and Ford Madox Brown—soon involved him closely with the artistic milieu of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. In time, he became one of the most important book-illustrators of the Victorian period.
Edward Hughes (1832–1908)
Hughes was a genre and portrait painter from London, who exhibited frequently at the Royal Academy and other institutions.
Hunt, Alfred William (1830–1896)
Hunt was born in Liverpool and went to school there. He was a Classics scholar at Corpus Christi College (Oxford University) from 1848 to 1851, when he was awarded the prestigious University Newdigate Prize for his poem Ninevah. Previous winners of the prize included Ruskin. (The Crowther/Oblak collection holds a very rare copy of this poem in its original Oxford print edition.) Hunt had already travelled widely in Europe, and exhibited at the Liverpool Academy by this time, but his first major professional step was to become an academic—through appointment to an Official Fellowship in Classics at Corpus Christi. There is some confusion as to when this happened.4 But, whatever the case, Hunt relinquished the Fellowship to become a full-time painter in 1861. He travelled very widely in the United Kingdom and beyond, and established a strong reputation for his watercolours. Ruskin thought very highly of Hunt's work, and the two of them shared a deep passion for Turner.
However, Ruskin was thought by many to have had a negative effect on Hunt's attempts to exhibit at the Royal Academy. In 1857, for example, (in an angry reaction to the poor hanging position of one of Hunt's works) Ruskin "made Hunt the occasion for a frontal attack on the privilege whereby the Royal Academicians usurped the best space for themselves."5 Landscape was not a fashionable genre at that time, and the controversies between the Academicians and Ruskin engendered continuing exhibition problems for landscapists favoured by him. This is probably why Hunt worked mainly in watercolour, exhibiting under the auspices of the Old Watercolour Society. It should be emphasized that whilst Hunt is usually linked to the Pre-Raphaelite tendency in landscape painting, his work frequently has a freedom in handling and strength of atmospheric effects that continue the tradition of Turner. In a late paper, he suggests that Turner's pure approach to landscape has been sidetracked through the inclusion of figures and other distracting features. In the following lines, he summarises what he takes to be "essential" to landscape in its highest (Turnerian) sense—"a certain strong sympathy with natural forces and phenomena, those of light and atmosphere especially, which insists on having its own expression at any cost, as against all other elements of the picture" (A. W. Hunt 215). This is the perfect summary of Hunt's own artistic credo.
Holman Hunt, William (1827–1910)
Hunt was born in London. His father was reluctant for him to become an artist, so, for a time, he worked as an office clerk. Accepted at the Royal Academy Schools in 1844 he met Millais and Rossetti there. Hunt allowed Rossetti to share his studio, and apparently gave him some artistic instruction. Together with Millais and Rossetti, he formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. The Brotherhood was committed to a rejuvenation of art through insistent attentiveness to nature (understood in broad terms) and the abandonment of formulaic academic classicism. The painter James Collinson, the sculptor Thomas Woolner, the trainee painter F. G. Stephens, and William Rossetti (Dante Gabriel's brother) also became members. The Brotherhood lasted until 1853 as a creative group. After initial critical hostility, the Pre-Raphaelite style found some acceptance, and Millais and Holman Hunt both went on to hugely successful independent careers. Hunt favoured literary themes and contemporary genre, but even more so, religious themes. From 1854 to 1856, and from 1869 to 1873 he stayed in the Holy Land to find material that would give visual authenticity to his religious pictures. He failed to be elected to Associate membership of the R.A. in 1856.
Inchbold, John William (1830–1888)
Inchbold was born in Leeds, the son of a printer. It may have been because of family connections in the printing business that he went to London to work as an apprentice draughtsman in the lithographic firm of Day and Haghe. Apparently Haghe encouraged him to paint, and he had major successes at the Royal Academy Exhibition during the 1850s. Ruskin took a great interest in his work, and the two spent time in Italy together. This seems to have resulted in a tension between them. After 1860, Inchbold found it hard to sell works, and, whilst based in London, he travelled widely in the UK, Europe, and North Africa. From around 1880, he spent most of his time in a small cottage above Montreux in Switzerland. In 1876, he had a volume of sonnets, Annus Amoris, privately printed. The Crowther/Oblak collection holds an original presentation copy of this book, with an (inserted) unpublished manuscript sonnet in Inchbold's own hand. A number of posthumous exhibitions featuring Inchbold's work were held. Of one of them, an anonymous reviewer said "The chief characteristic of his work is absolute originality. In looking at this splendid array, it is impossible to attach Inchbold to any predecessor or contemporary. His work passed through many phases but it was always his own. He saw nature with his own eyes, and not through another’s spectacles."6
Leader, Benjamin William (1831–1923)
Born Benjamin Leader Williams in Worcester, he entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1854. In 1857 he reversed his middle and last names to distinguish himself from other artists with the surname Williams. Leader distinguished himself as a painter of nature, and the British countryside. He was especially successful in having works exhibited at the Royal Academy Exhibition, having (at least) one picture included every year between 1854 and 1922.
Lear, Edward (1812–1888)
Lear is more famous in the English-speaking world for his comical "nonsense" poems and stories, than he is for his visual art. He was born in Holloway (now in London) and suffered ill health from childhood onwards, notably epilepsy. By the age of sixteen he was earning a living as draughtsman, and, by the 1830s had come to specialize in ornithological illustrations. He was one of the most cosmopolitan of Victorian artists travelling all over central and east central Europe and the Balkans, to Egypt, India and Ceylon. He gave drawing lessons to Queen Victoria at one point, and in the 1850s came under the visual influence of the Pre-Raphaelites. In the 1870s he settled at San Remo, on the Ligurian coast in Italy, and stayed there until his death.
Leighton, Lord Frederic(1830–1896)
Leighton was one of the most famous and influential figures in the Victorian art world. He was born in Scarborough (Yorkshire) into a family involved in international trade. Much of his youth was spent on the Continent where he was taught by Eduard von Steinle in Frankfurt, and Giovanni da Costa in Florence. Between 1855 and 1859, he lived in Paris. His painting Cimabue's Celebrated Madonna is carried in Procession through the Streets of Florence was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1855 and attracted much critical praise. It was bought by Queen Victoria. Returning to London, Leighton enjoyed almost uninterrupted success for the remainder of his career. He acquired great wealth, and in 1866, was able to build his own palatial house in Holland Park, London. Leighton was elected A.R.A. in 1864; R.A. in 1868; and became President of the Royal Academy in 1878. He was knighted also in 1878, and made Lord Leighton in 1896. (Ironically, he died the day after becoming a Lord.)
Lewis, John Frederick (1804–1876)
Lewis was the pre-eminent Orientalist in Victorian art. He was born in London, but lived in Spain between 1832 and 1834, and in Cairo from 1841 to 1850. Interestingly, during his time in Cairo, he tended to live "native" rather than as a British expatriate. Whilst proficient in all media, he won special praise for his watercolours—which Ruskin regarded as superlative achievements. He became an Associate Member of the R.A. in 1859, and a Full Member in 1865.
Lucas, John Seymour (1849−1922)
A Londoner by birth, Lucas first attended the St. Martin's Lane Art School and then the Royal Academy Schools. During the 1880s, he established his reputation in the fields of historical genre and portraiture, and was a master in the representation of historical costume. This put him in demand as a designer for theatrical productions, and as a book illustrator. Ironically, whilst much influenced by Velazquez and Van Dyck, he developed an extremely sharp—and sometimes rather cold—visual realism that contrasted much with the increasingly old-fashioned painterly historical genre painters such as Edward Matthew Ward.
Millais, Sir John Everett (1829–1896)
Millais was another of the most powerful figures in the Victorian art world. Born in Southampton to a family from Jersey in the Channel Islands, he was astonishingly precocious and was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools at the age of eleven. At the Schools he met William Holman Hunt and D. G. Rossetti, and the three of them eventually formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood—having an inaugural meeting at the house of Millais's parents (on Gower Street, London) in September 1848. Millais's career was phenomenally successful. He was accomplished in all the main genres of painting. Millais became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1853, and a full member in 1863. In 1885 he was knighted, and in 1896 was elected President of the Royal Academy. He died in the year of his election.
Morris, William (1834–1896)
Morris was born in Walthamstow, London. He went to Exeter College in the University of Oxford to read Theology—as did Burne-Jones, who became a lifelong close friend. Both dropped out from university, and after a spell in an architect's office, Morris formed a design company—Morris, Marshall, Faulkner, and Co. in 1861. The company specialized in a range of craft-based activities, including stained glass, carpets, tapestries, murals, embroidery, and furniture. Much of their work was done for churches. In 1874, Morris bought out the other partners, having, by this time, become personally proficient in many of the craft skills used by the company. During his lifetime, he was a very well-known poet, and had become fascinated by Icelandic and Norwegian sagas—even learning Old Icelandic and travelling to Iceland several times.
Later on in his life, Morris became a radical socialist and political activist. Professionally, he went on to develop a special interest in the history of manuscript illumination and typography. Some of his published poetry had already incorporated illustrations by himself, and in 1891 he founded the Kelmscott Press to produce beautiful limited-edition books. These, of course, included further publications of his own work. In Morris's final years, the Kelmscott Press absorbed most of his creative energies.
Poynter, Sir Edward John (1836–1919)
Poynter was another of the most influential figures in the late Victorian and Edwardian art world. Much of this influence arose from his work as a teacher and art administrator. He was born in Paris, and met Leighton in Italy in 1853. Leighton was a profound influence upon him. Poynter trained at the Royal Academy Schools and in Gleyre's atelier in Paris. From 1860, he was back in London, exhibiting at the R.A. from 1861, and achieving his first great success there with Israel in Egypt in 1867. He was appointed to the Slade Professorship of Art at University College London (1871), and later, made Director of Art and Principal of the National Art Training School at South Kensington (1875). Between 1894 and 1906, he was Director of the National Gallery in London. He was elected A.R.A in 1869, full R.A. in 1876, and served as President of the Royal Academy from 1896 to 1918. Poynter's work is classicist in every respect—involving, mainly, scenes from classical antiquity and mythology.
Prinsep, Val (1838−1904)
Born in Calcutta India, his full name was Valentine Cameron Prinsep. He was a successful artist, very much part of the G. F. Watts "Holland House" circle. Elected Associate of the Royal Academy and full member in 1879 and 1894, respectively, he also served as Professor of Painting there from 1900−1903.
Raven, John Samuel (1829−1877)
Raven was born in Preston, Suffolk, and was, as an artist, mainly self-taught. His style derived from John Crome and Constable, though in the 1850s he assimilated Pre-Raphaelite techniques.
Rossetti, Dante Gabriel (1828−1882)
Rossetti was born in London, the son of two Italian émigré families. Both families had literary accomplishments, and his brother William Michael, and (even more so) his two sisters Christina Georgina and Maria Francesca became important writers. Rossetti himself is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest Victorian poets, though his work was controversial at the time. He studied at Sass's drawing academy from 1841, and entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1845. After leaving the Academy in 1848, he studied under Ford Madox Brown, and then Holman Hunt (sharing a studio space with the latter for a short time). He was a founder member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and was mainly responsible for recruiting Collinson, Woolner, and his brother William Michael as members. He had a famous romance with Elizabeth Siddall in the 1850s and eventually married her. She figures in many of his paintings, and much of his poetry, but died in 1862. His imagery has less of the obsessive attention to detail that is found in the other Pre-Raphaelites, and much more commitment to medieval themes and imagery. This interest is explored both for its own sake, and as a starting point for representing contemporary female models (who were often his lovers also). Indeed, the medievalizing factors were quickly redefined by Rossetti to create intense and sensual textures, patterns, and volumes, that declared the full voluptuosity of his models (especially their hair).
Ruskin, John (1819−1900)
Ruskin was the major intellectual and cultural figure in Victorian Britain during the second half of the nineteenth century. He was born in London, the son of a wine merchant whose material means were very comfortable. During his childhood and adolescence, the Ruskin family visited the Lake District in northern England, and also Scotland; and travelled extensively on the Continent, including Strasbourg, Schaffhausen, Milan, Genoa, Turin, and Venice. The habit of extensive travelling stayed with him well into middle age, and he had a special love for the city of Venice (which is the subject of many of his writings on art and architecture).
In 1836, Ruskin became a student at Christ Church College, Oxford. His time there was interrupted by illness, and he was awarded a pass degree in 1842. During the break from his studies he wrote the first volume of Modern Painters—published anonymously as "A Graduate of Oxford." The book is ostensibly a defence of Turner against his contemporary critics, but has broader significance through its insistent advocacy of truth to nature as an artistic fundamental. Ruskin's critical writing was based not only on theory, but also on his own close involvement with art. In the 1830s he developed great skill in drawing and watercolour studying Anthony Van Dyck and having been privately instructed by Charles Runciman, Copley Fielding, and James Duffield Harding. Ruskin's practical work in these media is of the highest level of achievement. He was also a great collector of watercolours—especially Turner's.
The bulk of Ruskin's life was taken up with writing about the arts, the social meaning of art-making, and the dignity of craft-based labour in general. Various educational institutions benefitted from his activity and munificence, including the University of Oxford (where he served as the first Slade Professor of Fine Art in 1871), and the Working Men's College in London.
In 1878, Ruskin lost a libel action brought against him by James Abbot McNeill Whistler. The subject of the action was Ruskin's criticism of a work by Whistler for (putting it diplomatically) its lack of naturalistic detail and finish. Whistler won the case but was awarded minimal damages and went bankrupt. Ruskin's legal costs were paid by public subscription but despite this public support, the defeat was a psychological blow, and was, perhaps, the point where Ruskin's art theory began to lose its authority amongst the more progressive elements in the Victorian art-world. Over and above his enormous body of writing on art and culture, Ruskin is of great significance through his assistance to the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and related artists. After the Brotherhood's exhibited works of 1850 had been viciously attacked in reviews, Ruskin defended them in some important letters to The Times newspaper published in May 1851. He emphasized the importance of the truth-to-nature dimension of their works. In addition to his support for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, he became close for a while, to both John Brett and J. W. Inchbold (giving them financial assistance in the 1850s) and was always friendly with A. W. Hunt, and Edward Burne-Jones.
Scott, William Bell (1811−1890)
Born in Edinburgh, Scott was the son of an engraver. By 1837, he was in London, and achieved enough artistic recognition there to be appointed master of the government design school in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In 1870, he returned to London keeping up his work in organizing art-teaching and examining for the government Science and Art Department. Scott was a poet of some distinction and moved in the highest circles of intellectual society. He was friendly with D. G. Rossetti and the poet Algernon Swinburne, both of whom visited him in Newcastle. Ruskin and he did not get on.
Shaw, John Liston Byam (1872−1919)
Byam Shaw was born in Madras, India, where his father was involved in the colonial legal profession. The family came back to the UK in 1878, living in London. Byam Shaw was educated at the St. John's Wood Art School and then the Royal Academy. He was skilled in a range of art media. He had some success, but did not become a leading artist. He eventually established himself as a teacher, and, in cooperation with Rex Vicat Cole, opened an art school. He also did a great deal of book illustration.
Stone, Marcus (1840−1921)
Stone was from London. As the son of a distinguished painter (Frank Stone, A.R.A.) he received artistic training at home, and had early success at the Academy Exhibitions. He came to specialize in historical genre, and then atmospheric romantic genre scenes—often with a late eighteenth-century, or early nineteenth-century setting. He was elected A.R.A. in 1877, full R.A. in 1887, and Senior R.A. in 1920.
Strudwick, John Melhuish (1849−1937)
Strudwick was born in Clapham, London, and spent some time at the Royal Academy Schools. In the 1870s he was briefly a studio assistant for Burne-Jones, and came to work in a Pre-Raphaelite style.
Ward, Edward Matthew (1816−1879)
Ward was born in London, and became a pupil at the Royal Academy Schools. He was a student in Rome from 1836 to 1839 studying under Filippo Agricola. Before returning to England, the Academy of St. Luke in Rome awarded him a silver medal. He also spent some time working on mural painting with Peter von Cornelius (of the Nazarene Brotherhood) in Munich. Once re-established at the Royal Academy Schools, Ward was one of a circle of close friends who constituted "The Clique"—the very first artistic "group" in British art. As well as Ward, the "Clique" included Richard Dadd, W. P. Frith, Augustus Egg, Henry O'Neil, John Philip, Alfred Elmore, and possibly others. They used to meet in Dadd's lodgings to do sketches and critically discuss them. The group were unhappy with the teaching regime at the Royal Academy (with its emphasis on formulaic classical history painting). They favoured, instead, populist genre scenes from history and literature inspired by Hogarth and Wilkie.
Ward was commended—without winning a prize—in the 1843 Westminster Hall Competition. However, in 1852, he was commissioned to produce eight important murals that are now in the House of Commons. (These murals present scenes from both Royalist and parliamentarian history in the English Civil War, the two opposing forces each assigned its own side of the corridor.) Already an A.R.A. by 1846, he was elected a full Royal Academician in 1855.
Eventually, Ward became one of the most successful painters of the mid-Victorian era, his subjects chosen mainly from literature or history—the latter of which he read avidly. His wife Henrietta (1832–1924) was also an important painter, and the author of two large volumes of reminiscences. She observes of Ward that "As a student of history everything connected with the past had a fascination for him, and he was deeply imbued with the idea that Art held responsibilities, that the painter was merely the trustee to hand on the legacy of Art to others…" (O'Connell 53). Indeed, she also emphasizes that "His only hobby—if one can so call a study of such vast importance—was history. He was passionately fond of reading Lamartine, Hume, and other great historians, and would frequently come home laden with books or curios in the way of dress or weapons" (Ward 32–33).
Waterhouse, John William (1849−1917)
Waterhouse was born in Rome to an artistic British family. They returned to the UK in 1854, and Waterhouse was accepted to the Royal Academy Schools in 1870. He enjoyed great success at the Academy Exhibitions, exhibiting there almost continuously from 1874 to 1916. He was a master of classicism and then a mature version of Pre-Raphaelitism with strong realistic emphases. He became an A.R.A. in 1885 and a full R.A. in 1895.
Watts, George Frederick (1817−1904)
G. F. Watts was born before, and outlived, all the other most important Victorian artists. His most recent biographer Veronica Franklin Gould observes that, when he died, "Newspapers throughout the world mourned the passing of the 'Grand Old Man of English Art,' 'The English Titian,' 'England’s Michelangelo,' 'The Great Symbolist,' 'The Last of our Great Victorians'" (335).
Watts was a complex personality, but amiable enough to create a wide network of friendships throughout his life. He also influenced many aspects of European Symbolist art. Born in London, he studied in the studio of the sculptor Behnes (as did Woolner some years later) and made devoted study of the Elgin Marbles. He entered the Royal Academy Schools when he was eighteen. In the competition for the Hall of Westminster mural designs in 1843, Watts was one of the three main prize winners. Ironically, he contributed little to the final works there—Cope and Ward, amongst others, being the major contributors. However, with the £300 prize money he was able to visit Italy via Paris in 1843. He became very friendly with the British minister to the Tuscan court, Lord Holland, and was able to stay as a guest in the Lord's country house (the Villa Medicea di Careggi) until returning to England in 1847.
Watts's career developed modestly until he became the permanent guest of Mr. and Mrs. Toby Prinsep at Little Holland House in London from 1850 to 1871. He eventually became famous as a portraitist, and was able—in his own work at least—to revive history painting on the basis of grand theoretical ideas. He was elected A.R.A. in January 1867 and full R.A. in December the same year. Towards the end of his life, he produced some important sculptural works. He married the actress Ellen Terry in 1864, but she eloped with another man, and the two were eventually divorced. At the age of 69, he married the artist Mary Tytler Fraser. The two were happy together, and became guardians of a young woman called Lilian Mackintosh in 1896.
Whistler, James Abbott McNeill (1834−1903)
Whistler was one of the major figures in European modernism. He was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, but also lived in Russia and London before entering West Point Military Academy in 1851. After his dismissal from there he went to Paris in 1855 and to London in 1859. He mainly remained in the UK until 1892. Whistler's paintings involve an impressionist technique directed towards the evocation of harmonies of colour and form rather than optical effects. He was a master of engraving as well as painting.
Woolner, Thomas (1825−1892)
Woolner was born at Hadleigh in Surrey (UK). In the late 1830s he entered the studio of the sculptor William Behnes, and, in 1842, the Royal Academy Schools. He exhibited regularly at the R.A. in the 1840s but found it difficult to support himself as a sculptor except through commercial work (such as funerary monuments and decorations). He became friendly with D. G. Rossetti, who invited him to join the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He was one of the most active members of the Brotherhood's corporate life, hosting many of their meetings in his own studio.
In 1852, he emigrated to Australia, in an unsuccessful attempt to make a fortune from digging in the goldfields. His letters home make it clear that, even so far away, he still regarded himself as a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. However, by the time of his return in 1854 the Brotherhood had ceased to function as a group. Woolner went on, nevertheless, to establish himself as one of the major sculptors of Victorian Britain. He was elected A.R.A. in 1871, and full R.A. in 1874. From 1877–1878 he was Professor of Sculpture at the Royal Academy, though he never delivered any lectures there.
That being said, in the last year of his life, Woolner did publish an essay entitled "Where to draw the line: a word to students" (The Magazine of Art 7–11). The essay does not seem to have been discussed or even noticed by the existing literature and is not listed in Amy Woolner's list of her father's writings (the list can be found in Woolner 346). Its main point is that "All art and science must have bases whereon which to rest, and wherefrom all effort must emanate" (The Magazine of Art 7). In astronomy, this base is mathematics, in art, it is drawing. For Woolner, "Drawing is the beginning and end of art" (The Magazine of Art 7). Specifically, he understands it as the power to manually generate "form" so as to deliver narrative and didactic content. Light, shade and colour are "but the adjuncts and aids" to form in this sense (The Magazine of Art 8). Other passages in Woolner's text make it clear that such generative power is the basis of painting and sculpture, as well as drawing in the specifically graphic idiom.
Woolner's strategy of exposition is far more anecdotal than systematic. One of his anecdotes concerns Thomas Carlyle's regret at not having being instructed in techniques of drawing in his younger days. According to Woolner, Carlyle told him that, on the whole (in terms of advantages to a man's career) drawing would be more advantageous than reading in terms of "sharpening his faculties, giving him a clearer perception of facts, and a love of truth…" (The Magazine of Art 8). Carlyle's point is given great emphasis by Woolner, and he goes on to claim drawing to be "almost universal as a language" (though it is admitted that some non-Europeans cultures have difficulty with its interpretation). Woolner also recognizes that drawing has its own intrinsic worth. To underline the point, he notes with the greatest admiration how the Cnidians in ancient Greece refused to sell the statue of Aphrodite from their Temple, even though this would have allowed them to pay off their national debt.
For Woolner, at the heart of drawing's intrinsic worth is its grounding in both study and feeling. In his words, "art is a happy marriage of science and sensibility, knowledge and passion. A work void of knowledge is mawkish; but if without feeling, cold and unattractive" (The Magazine of Art 10). From these remarks (and similar ones in the rest of the text) it is clear that—even at the end of his life—Woolner insistently maintained that passion for truth to nature which was the original driving force behind the formation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Indeed, it is Woolner and Holman Hunt who (whatever their differences and divergencies) maintained the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic ethos even after the Brotherhood itself had dissolved.
1. See The Diaries of George Price Boyce (13). These diaries—severely edited by his niece—are an important source for understanding the British art scene (especially the Pre-Raphaelites) between 1851 and 1875.
2. Lines "written to a friend" by Burne-Jones and quoted in the Introduction to the Exhibition of Drawings and Studies by Sir Edward Burne-Jones (vii)
3. See The P.R.B. Journal. Since the time of Holman Hunt and William Rossetti's memoirs, interest in Collinson's work has been limited. The most substantial studies of him are two papers by Valerie A. Cox—"The Life of James Collinson (1825–1881)," The Review of the Pre-Raphaelite Society 3(3) (Autumn 1995): 1–14; and "The Works of James Collinson (1825–1881)" in The Review of the Pre-Raphaelite Society 4(3) (Autumn 1996): 1–16.
4. Christopher Wood suggests 1853 in his Dictionary of British Art, vol. 4, Victorian Painters (268); whilst the more authoritative exhibition catalogue: Christopher Newall, The Poetry of Truth. Alfred William Hunt and the Art of Landscape, (with contributions by Scott Wilcox and Colin Harrison), Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2004, p. 13, suggests November 1857. Allen Staley mistakenly asserts that in 1856 "Ruskin's praise" decided Hunt on an artistic career rather than an academic one (195). However, it is certain that Hunt did take up the Fellowship, and only became a full-time artist later on.
5. Secor (15). This book presents a good summary of the landscape controversy (14–21). The problems indirectly raised for Hunt by Ruskin are noted also by Cosmo Monkhouse in his Introduction to the important memorial exhibition catalogue Exhibition of Drawings in Watercolour by Alfred William Hunt, Member of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour (v).
6. "G.J. Pinwell—S. Bough—J.W. Inchbold: A Loan Exhibition," Leeds Mercury, Saturday March 29th, 1888, p. 3. The exhibition was held at the Old Watercolour Society Gallery, Pall Mall, in London. Unfortunately, whilst Inchbold's works anticipate modernist tendencies, he had little influence on other artists.
Boyce, George Price. The Diaries of George Price Boyce. Ed. Virginia Surtees. Norwich: Real World, 1980.
Crowther, Paul. Awakening Beauty: The Crowther-Oblak Collection of Victorian Art. Exhibition catalogue. Ljubljana: National Gallery of Slovenia; Galway: Moore Institute, National University of Ireland, 2014.
Fredeman, William E., ed. The P.R.B. Journal. William Michael Rossetti's Diary of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood 1849–1853 together with other Pre-Raphaelite documents. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.
Gould, Veronica Franklin. G. F. Watts: The Last Great Victorian. London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.
Holman Hunt, William. Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. London: Macmillan and Co., 1905.
Hunt, A. W. "Turnerian Landscape—An Arrested Art." The Nineteenth-Century (February 1891): 214–224.
Marillier, Henry Currie. The Liverpool School of Painters. An Account of the Liverpool Academy, From 1810 to 1867, With Memoirs of the Principal Artists. London: John Murray, 1904.
Monkhouse, Cosmo, ed. Exhibition of Drawings and Studies by Sir Edward Burne-Jones. London: The Burlington Fine Art Club, 1899.
—. Exhibition of Drawings in Watercolour by Alfred William Hunt, Member of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour. London: Burlington Fine Arts Club, 1897.
O'Connell, Elliot, ed. Mrs. E. M. Ward's Reminiscences. London: Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons, 1911.
Secor, Robert. John Ruskin and Alfred Hunt. New Letters and the Record of a Friendship. English Literary Studies, University of Victoria: 1982.
Staley, Allen. The Pre-Raphaelite Landscape. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001.
Ward, Mrs. E. M. Memories of Ninety Years. Ed. Isabel G. McAllister. London: Hutchinson and Co., undated.
Wood, Christopher. Dictionary of British Art, vol. 4, Victorian Painters. Woodbridge: Antique Collector's Club, 1998.
Woolner, Amy. Thomas Woolner RA, Sculptor and Poet: His Life in Letters Written by His Daughter. New York: Dutton and Co., 1917.
Woolner, Thomas. "Where to Draw the Line: A Word to Students." The Magazine of Art (January 1892): 7–11.
Created 16 January 2014