March Lecture: ‘Anatomiless And Rigid’: Pre-Raphaelitism, Drawing And The Decorative Arts by Dr. Jim Cheshire

A lecture by Dr. Jim Cheshire entitled ‘Anatomiless And Rigid: Pre-Raphaelitism, Drawing And The Decorative Arts’ will take place on the 21st of March at 11am at the Birmingham & Midland Institute, Margaret Street, Birmingham. Reception from 10.30 a.m. in the John Peek Conference Room.

John Ruskin’s awkward neologism from his seminal chapter ‘The Nature of Gothic’ invokes one of the central dilemmas of the Victorian Gothic revival. He describes the figures of ‘the old cathedral front’ as ‘anatomiless’ (lacking correct anatomy) and in doing so engages with a current debate about the nature of medieval figure work and its relationship to contemporary art. In England the widespread and deeply felt enthusiasm for medieval art was tempered by a conviction that medieval drawing was crude grotesque or just wrong. This left artist’s with a problem: how could their drawing be Gothic in spirit and yet avoid the perceived errors of medieval art? Pre-Raphaelite drawing provided one response to this problem, as did various types of figure work in stained glass, furniture and textiles. This lecture will examine the problem of Gothic figure work in Victorian Britain and how Pre-Raphaelite artists explored this through fine and decorative art.

Dr. Jim Cheshire is Reader in Cultural History at the University of Lincoln. His researchcentres on Victorian attitudes to the medieval period in literary and visual culture. He is currently working on a monograph about Tennyson’s relationship with his publishers in the mid Victorian period and has previously published books and articles on stained glass, 19th century interior design and book illustration.

For further details relating to the event mentioned above please email info@Pre‑Raphaelitesociety.org.

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