24
May
11

Exhibition: ‘A Ballad of Love and Death: Pre-Raphaelite Photography in Great Britain, 1848-1875′ at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Exhibition dates: 8th March – 29th May 2011

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Julia Margaret Cameron – you are one of my heroes!

Many thankx to the Musée d’Orsay for allowing me to publish the photogaphs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

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Henry White
Fougères et ronces (Ferns and brambles)
1856
Épreuve sur papier albuminé
19.1 x 24.1 cm
Collection particulière
© Droits réservés

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John Ruskin
Fribourg
1859
Crayon, encre, aquarelle et gouache sur papier
22.5 x 28.7 cm
London, The British Museum
© The Trustees of The British Museum. All rights reserved.

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Frederick Crawley, under the direction of John Ruskin
Fribourg, Suisse, Rue de la Palme et Pont de Berne (Fribourg, Switzerland, Palm Street and Berne Bridge)
about 1854 or 1856
Daguerréotype
11.5 x 15.1 cm
Angleterre, Courtesy K. & J. Jacobson
© Droits réservés

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Roger Fenton
Bolton Abbey, fenêtre ouest
1854
Épreuve sur papier albuminé
25.1 x 34.5 cm
Bradford, National Media Museum
© National Media Museum, Bradford/Science & Society Picture Library

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John William Inchbold
La Chapelle de Bolton Abbey (The Vault of Bolton Abbey)
1853
Huile sur toile
50 x 68.4 cm
Northampton, Museum and Art Gallery
© Northampton, Museum and Art Gallery

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Henry Peach Robinson
Fading Away
1858
Épreuve sur papier albuminé
28.8 x 52.1 cm
Bradford, The Royal Photographic Society Collection au National Media Museum.
© National Media Museum, Bradford/Science & Society Picture Library

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Henry Peach Robinson
She Never Told her Love
1857
Épreuve sur papier albuminé
18.6 x 23.3 cm
Paris, musée d’Orsay
© Musée d’Orsay (dist. RMN)/Patrice Schmidt

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Frederick Pickersgill
Sunshine and Shade
1859
Épreuve sur papier albuminé
16.4 x 19.4 cm
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum.
© National Media Museum, Bradford/Science & Society Picture Library

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“The historian and art critic, John Ruskin, had a great influence in Great Britain not only on the Pre-Raphaelite movement created in 1848, but on the development of early photography in the 1850s. The leading Pre-Raphaelite painters, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Holman Hunt and Ford Madox Brown and their followers, wished to change the pictorial conventions laid down by the Royal Academy, and in order to demonstrate the transformations in modern life, invented a radically new idiom marked by bright colours and clarity of detail.

Pre-Raphaelite painters and photographers frequently made similar choices of subjects, and the photographers, particularly Julia Margaret Cameron, David Wilkie Wynfield and Lewis Carroll, were often had close links with the painters.

When painting landscapes, the Pre-Raphaelite artists answered Ruskin’s call, meticulously observing nature in order to capture every nuance of detail. For their part, photographers, such as Roger Fenton, Henry White, William J. Stillman and Colonel Henry Stuart Wortley, experimented with the new process of wet plate collodion negatives that allowed much greater image detail, and achieved similar effects. Although highly impressed at first by the daguerreotype, which enabled the eye to see tiny, overlooked details, Ruskin was nonetheless still very critical of landscape photography, which could not reproduce the colours of nature and in particular of the sky. This failing also gave rise to a major debate amongst photography critics.

In portraiture, there were clear links between the painted portraits of Watts and Cameron’s photographic portraits. By using special lenses and photographing her models in close-up, Cameron, achieved, with a glass negative, exactly the opposite effect to the clear image advocated by Ruskin, and her work was distinctive for the breadth of relief and contour, as well as the compositions evoking Raphael’s paintings, also a source of inspiration for Watts.

The painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti repeatedly drew and painted Jane Morris, a model with whom he was infatuated, and he asked Robert Parsons to produce a series of photographs, under his personal direction, which captured the fascinating presence of the young woman as effectively as his own paintings.

Just like the Pre-Raphaelite painters, Victorian photographers would turn to religious or historical subjects, finding a shared inspiration in the poems of Dante, Shakespeare and possibly Byron, and above all in the Arthurian legend made popular once more by Lord Tennyson, the poet laureat. From a formal point of view, Millais’ Ophelia, one of his most successful paintings, was a source for Henry Peach Robinson’s photograph, The Lady of Shalott, even though it had a different theme.

Finally, Pre-Raphaelite painters and Victorian photographers both liked to present scenes from modern life with a moralising undertone: hence She Never Told Her Love, a photograph by Robinson that was very successful when exhibited at the Crystal Palace in 1858, William Holman Hunt’s painting, Awakening of Conscience, and Rossetti’s Found, a painting depicting a countryman who comes across his former sweetheart, now a prostitute in the city.

In the 1880s, Pre-Raphaelite painting would be transformed, with artists and writers like William Morris, Burne-Jones, Whistler and Oscar Wilde, into a very different movement concerned only with the cult of beauty and rejecting Ruskin’s concept of art as something moral or useful. British photographers, however, inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites would inspire the Pictorialist movement that flourished in the 1890s, encouraged by the writings of Henry Peach Robinson and Peter Henry Emerson, extolling artistic photography.”

Press release from the Musée d’Orsay website

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James Sinclair 14th Earl of Caithness
Avenue à Weston, Warwickshire (Weston Avenue, Warwickshire)
c. 1860
Épreuve sur papier albuminé
23 x 18.3 cm
New York, Courtesy George Eastman House Rochester
© Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film

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Julia Margaret Cameron
Le tournesol (The sunflower)
1866 – 1870
Épreuve sur papier albuminé
35.2 x 24.3 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art, Fond Paul Mellon
© National Gallery of Art, Washington

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John Robert Parsons, under the direction of Rossetti
Jane Morris posant dans la maison de Rossetti (Jane Morris posing in the house of Rossetti)
summer 1865
Épreuve moderne
22.6 x 17.5 cm
London, Victoria and Albert Museum
© V&A Images / Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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John Robert Parsons
Jane Morris posant dans le jardin de la maison de Rossetti (Jane Morris posing in the garden of the house of Rossetti)
summer 1865
Épreuve albuminée
Collection particulière
© Tim Hurst Photography

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Jane Morris, the blue silk dress
1868
Huile sur toile
110.5 x 90.2 cm
Londres, The Society of Antiquaries
© Kelmscott Manor Collection, by Permission of the Society of Antiquaries of London

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Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Caroll)
Amy Hughes
1863
Austin, The University of Texas, Harry Ransom Center, Gernsheim Collection
© Droits réservés

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Julia Margaret Cameron
Maud
1875
Épreuve au charbon
30 x 25 cm
Paris, musée d’Orsay
© Musée d’Orsay (dist. RMN)/Patrice Schmidt

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Sir John Everett Millais
A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew’s Day Refusing to Shield Himself from Danger by Wearing the Roman Catholic Badge
1851-1852
Huile sur toile
91.4 x 62.2 cm
Collection Makins
© The Makins Collection/The Bridgeman Art Library

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Sir Edward Burne-Jones
Princess Sabra (The King’s Daughter)
1865 – 1866
Huile sur toile
105 x 61 cm
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
© Musée d’Orsay (dist. RMN)/Patrice Schmidt

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Julia Margaret Cameron
“And Enid Sang”
1874
Épreuve sur papier albuminé, négatif verre au collodion, contrecollée sur carton
35 x 28 cm
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
© Musée d’Orsay (dist. RMN)

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Musée d’Orsay
62, rue de Lille
75343 Paris Cedex 07
France

Opening hours:
9.30am to 6pm
9.30am to 9.45pm on Thursdays
Closed on mondays

Musée d’Orsay website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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