Venue: John Peek Conference Room, Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m. Reception from 10.30am.
In two early watercolours, ‘The Laboratory’ (1849, BMAG) and ‘Fra Pace’ (1856, private collection), Rossetti depicted scenes from distinct historical periods, the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. In doing so he contrasted not only their visual style but also the different values and morals of the cultures they represented to him. These works have only rarely considered in their own right and have never before been compared and contrasted. I do so in this talk in order to open up discussions about the artist’s wider aesthetic programme. The dates of these works are crucial – the first being at the start of Rossetti’s involvement with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the second at a point when the Brotherhood began to dissolve. Yet there is a dialogue between the two works that I uncover and explore here. In their different ways these watercolours look forward to themes worked out by Rossetti in more familiar paintings, a discussion of which forms the second half of this paper.
Colin Cruise is Professor of Art History at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University. He has written widely on nineteenth-century art and the Pre-Raphaelites. In recent years he was guest curator for two exhibitions for BMAG, ‘Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon and the Pre-Raphaelites’ and ‘The Poetry of Drawing’. His current research project is a study of the drawings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
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