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

 

Julia Margaret Cameron – you are one of my heroes!

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

 

 

Henry White. 'Ferns and brambles' 1856

 

Henry White (British, 1819-1903)
Fougères et ronces (Ferns and brambles)
1856
Albumen print
19.1 x 24.1 cm
Collection particulière
© Droits réservés

 

John Ruskin. 'Fribourg' 1859

 

John Ruskin (English, 1819-1900)
Fribourg
1859
Pencil, ink, watercolour and gouache on paper
22.5 x 28.7 cm
London, The British Museum
© The Trustees of The British Museum. All rights reserved

 

Frederick Crawley, under the direction of John Ruskin. 'Fribourg, Switzerland, Palm Street and Berne Bridge' about 1854 or 1856

 

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. and J. Jacobson
© Droits réservés

 

Roger Fenton. 'Bolton Abbey' 1854

 

Roger Fenton (British, 1819-1869)
Bolton Abbey, West window
1854
Albumen print
25.1 x 34.5 cm
Bradford, National Media Museum
© National Media Museum, Bradford/Science & Society Picture Library

 

John William Inchbold. 'La Chapelle de Bolton Abbey' 1853

 

John William Inchbold (English, 1830-1888)
La Chapelle de Bolton Abbey (The Vault of Bolton Abbey)
1853
Oil on canvas
50 x 68.4 cm
Northampton, Museum and Art Gallery
© Northampton, Museum and Art Gallery

 

Henry Peach Robinson. 'Fading Away' 1858

 

Henry Peach Robinson (English, 1830-1901)
Fading Away
1858
Albumen print
28.8 x 52.1 cm
Bradford, The Royal Photographic Society Collection au National Media Museum.
© National Media Museum, Bradford/Science & Society Picture Library

 

Henry Peach Robinson. 'She Never Told her Love' 1857

 

Henry Peach Robinson (English, 1830-1901)
She Never Told her Love
1857
Albumen print
18.6 x 23.3 cm
Paris, musée d’Orsay
© Musée d’Orsay (dist. RMN)/Patrice Schmidt

 

 

Consumed by the passion of unrequited love, a young woman lies suspended in the dark space of her unrealised dreams in Henry Peach Robinson’s illustration of the Shakespearean verse “She never told her love,/ But let concealment, like a worm i’ the bud,/ Feed on her damask cheek” (Twelfth Night II,iv,111-13). Although this picture was exhibited by Robinson as a discrete work, it also served as a study for the central figure in his most famous photograph, Fading Away, of 1858.

Purportedly showing a young consumptive surrounded by family in her final moments, Fading Away was hotly debated for years. On the one hand, Robinson was criticised for the presumed indelicacy of having invaded the death chamber at the most private of moments. On the other, those who recognised the scene as having been staged and who understood that Robinson had created the picture through combination printing (a technique that utilised several negatives to create a single printed image) accused him of dishonestly using a medium whose chief virtue was its truthfulness.

While addressing the moral and literary themes that Robinson believed crucial if photography were to aspire to high art, this picture makes only restrained use of the cloying sentimentality and showy technical artifice that often characterise this artist’s major exhibition pictures. Perhaps intended to facilitate the process of combination printing, the unnaturally black background serves also to envelop the figure in palpable melancholia.

Text from the Metropolitan Museum of Arts website [Online] Cited 27/01/2020

 

Frederick Pickersgill. 'Sunshine and Shade' 1859

 

Frederick Pickersgill (English, 1820-1900)
Sunshine and Shade
1859
Albumen print
16.4 x 19.4 cm
The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum.
© National Media Museum, Bradford/Science & Society Picture Library

 

 

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

 

James Sinclair 14th Earl of Caithness. 'Weston Avenue, Warwickshire' c. 1860

 

James Sinclair 14th Earl of Caithness (Scottish, 1821-1881)
Avenue à Weston, Warwickshire (Weston Avenue, Warwickshire)
c. 1860
Albumen print
23 x 18.3 cm
New York, Courtesy George Eastman House Rochester
© Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film

 

Julia Margaret Cameron. 'The sunflower' 1866-1870

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879)
Le tournesol (The sunflower)
1866-1870
Albumen print
35.2 x 24.3 cm
Washington, National Gallery of Art, Fond Paul Mellon
© National Gallery of Art, Washington

 

John Robert Parsons, under the direction of Rossetti. 'Jane Morris posing in the house of Rossetti' summer 1865

 

John Robert Parsons (Irish, 1826-1909), under the direction of Rossetti
Jane Morris posant dans la maison de Rossetti (Jane Morris posing in the house of Rossetti)
Summer 1865
Modern print
22.6 x 17.5 cm
London, Victoria and Albert Museum
© V&A Images / Victoria and Albert Museum, London

 

John Robert Parsons. 'Jane Morris posing in the garden of the house of Rossetti' summer 1865

 

John Robert Parsons (Irish, 1826-1909)
Jane Morris posant dans le jardin de la maison de Rossetti (Jane Morris posing in the garden of the house of Rossetti)
Summer 1865
Albumen print
Private collection
© Tim Hurst Photography

 

Dante Gabriel Rossetti. 'Jane Morris, the blue silk dress' 1868

 

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (English, 1828-1882)
Jane Morris, the blue silk dress
1868
Oil on canvas
110.5 x 90.2 cm
Londres, The Society of Antiquaries
© Kelmscott Manor Collection, by Permission of the Society of Antiquaries of London

 

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Caroll). 'Amy Hughes' 1863

 

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Caroll) (English, 1832-1898)
Amy Hughes
1863
Austin, The University of Texas, Harry Ransom Center, Gernsheim Collection
© Droits réservés

 

Julia Margaret Cameron. 'Maud' 1875

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British, 1815-1879)
Maud
1875
Charcoal print
30 x 25 cm
Paris, musée d’Orsay
© Musée d’Orsay (dist. RMN)/Patrice Schmidt

 

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

 

Sir John Everett Millais (British, 1829-1896)
A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew’s Day Refusing to Shield Himself from Danger by Wearing the Roman Catholic Badge
1851-1852
Oil on canvas
91.4 x 62.2 cm
Collection Makins
© The Makins Collection/The Bridgeman Art Library

 

Sir Edward Burne-Jones. 'Princess Sabra (The King's Daughter)' 1865-1866

 

Sir Edward Burne-Jones (British, 1833-1898)
Princess Sabra (The King’s Daughter)
1865-1866
Oil on canvas
105 x 61 cm
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
© Musée d’Orsay (dist. RMN)/Patrice Schmidt

 

Julia Margaret Cameron. 'And Enid Sang' 1874

 

Julia Margaret Cameron  (British, 1815-1879)
And Enid Sang
1874
Print on albumen paper, collodion glass negative, laminated on cardboard
35 x 28 cm
Paris, Musée d’Orsay
© Musée d’Orsay (dist. RMN)

 

 

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

Opening hours:
9.30 am – 6 pm
9.30 am – 9.45 pm 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 art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Mask’ 1994

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