Pieter Bruegel the Elder

2019 sees the 450th anniversary of the death of Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c 1525/30 – 1569). To mark the occasion the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna is dedicating the world’s first ever major monograph exhibition to the artist widely regarded as the 16th century’s greatest Netherlandish painter.

Netherlandish Proverbs Oil on oak panel, 117 x 163 cm; Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Gemaldegalerie, Berlin.

After an initial period of brilliance, during which time it rose to achieve perfection, Flemish art gradually fell into decline. Although thorough studies of its origins have revealed works, in particular those of the miniaturists, that are deserving of notice and which predate the artistic careers of the two Van Eycks, Hubert and Jan, the genius of the brothers remains stunningly spectacular, surpassing that of their predecessors to such a degree that it would be impossible to find an equally sudden, decisive and glorious evolution in the history of art.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Painter and the Collector, ca. 1565.
Pen and brown ink, 25 x 21.6 cm.
Graphische Sammlung, Albertina, Vienna.
Petrus Paulus Rubens, Jan Brueghel the Elder and his family, 1612-1613.
Oil on wood, 124.5 x 94.6 cm.
Courtauld Institute of Art, Princes Gate Collection, London.

Even so, the lesser artists who followed the Van Eycks, whether they were either directly trained by them or simply influenced by their work, also possessed talent of admirable quality, but their sense and understanding of nature was less penetrating and profound and their execution less scrupulous. In not applying the same closeness of attention, which till then had been a rule of Flemish painting, these artists lost their opportunity for originality, relaxing their focus on nature and placing the primary importance of their work in its details.

Jan Brueghel the Elder and Hans Rottenhammer,
Rest upon the Flight into Egypt with the Temple of Tivoli, 1595.
Oil on copper, 26 x 35.5 cm. Private collection.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Flight into Egypt, 1563.
Oil on wood, 37.2 x 55.5 cm.
Courtauld Institute of Art, Count Antoine Seilern Collection, London.

It became increasingly common for these painters to travel to Italy, and consequently their native impressions became mixed with those evoked by the lands through which they passed. Upon leaving the Flemish plains, the monotony of which is scarcely interrupted, the emigrant artists could not help but be struck by the imposing nature of the mountainous regions along their route.

Joachim Patinir, Saint Jerome in a Landscape, ca. 1530.
Oil on wood, 74 x 91 cm.
Museo del Prado, Madrid.

The Alps, the Tirols, and the Apennines offered the artists the rugged landscapes once sought by the Flemish Primitives, to whom simplicity had been of no interest. In their depiction of panoramas that stretched as far as the eye could see, these nomads remained faithful to their excessive preoccupation with the picturesque.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Rabbit Hunt, 1560 (?). Etching, 22.3 x 29.1 cm.
The Royal Library of Albert I, Brussels.

They were of the belief that no amount of detail could be too much, and they tirelessly added bizarre rock formations and countless rivers to the harsh peaks and mountainous landscapes they painted. In addition, they laid out forests, towns, villages and castles that stretched into infinity. When, during their travels, they spent time in towns, at every step the Flemish painters encountered ancient ruins, monuments of various styles, statues, masterpieces by artists of the Classical age, and works of art no less admired by their less worthy successors; and everywhere they went they came across traditions and new ways of thinking vastly different from those they had known until then. How could they resist the seductions that solicited them from every direction? Their Italian colleagues, who were already organized in associations and guilds, welcomed the Flemish artists, affiliated them with their groups and initiated them into the wonders of the ars nova. On their return home, the travellers themselves often became apostles, extolling the principles of Italian painting and art in general, and attempting, though usually with little success, to imitate the Italian style…

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Portrait Paintings and Studio Drawings

portrait-paintings-and-studio-drawings

The first quality of great portraiture is the power to reveal the inner character, or story, of the sitter. It is said that every man habitually wears a mask in the presence of his peers, and it is only in moments of unconsciousness that he lets it down.

Jacopo Tintoretto (1518-1594), Self-Portrait, Italian, c. 1588.
Oil on canvas, 63 x 52 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris.

The great portrait painter must be able to capture the true essence of the individual, an incredibly complex task that is often only revealed in fleeting moments. Such an artist, as the poet Tennyson describes, “pouring on a face, divinely through all hindrance finds the man behind it, and so paints him so that his face, the shape and colour of a mind and life, lives for his children, ever at his best.”

Alexander Roslin (1718-1793), The Lady with the Veil: Marie Suzanne Roslin (wife of the artist), Rococo, Swedish, 1768.
Oil on canvas, 65 x 54 cm. Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.

The goal was not only to portray the subject’s physical characteristics but the entire essence of the individual, Aristotle stated that “the goal of art is not to present the outward appearance of things, but their inner significance.” Interpretative portrait painting was often modelled after Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa. The mysterious nature of the Mona Lisa’s facial expression gives depth to her character- the spectator is instantly intrigued and desires to know what she may be hiding. Therefore to attain this level of portraiture, the artist must become cognizant and sympathetic to the spirit of the subject.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Mona Lisa (La Gioconda), Italian, c. 1503-1506.
Oil on poplar panel, 77 x 53 cm. Musée du Louvre, Paris.

In addition from a compositional standpoint the Mona Lisa symbolizes perfection, its precise proportions and use of atmospheric perspective also are responsible for its acclaim in the art world. Many portrait painters since, however far from attaining his ideal, have idealised da Vinci and utilised his work as inspiration. James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s power was remarkable in his own circle, while Franz Hals and Diego Velasquez were more universally recognised. Often the personality of the sitter is revealed by a direct gaze that seems to encompass something fascinating about the subject. Whether delightful or solemn, the eyes of the sitter seem to draw the spectator in with a sense of “intimacy” that is difficult to break down and define. This quality is especially evident in the jovial nature of Hals’ portraits, the friendly smiles apparent within Joshua Reynolds’ paintings, the wistful stare captured in Rembrandt’s portraits, and the melancholy appeal within the paintings of Domenico Morone.

Leonardo-da-Vinci-Lady-with-an-Ermine
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Italian, Lady with an Ermine (Portrait of
Cecilia Gallerani), 1483-1490. Oil on panel, 54 x 39 cm.
Czartoryski Museum, Kraków.

At other times the sitter’s glance is averted, and he is quite unaware of observation. The artist has illustrated the sitter in the intimacy of his own self-communion; a trait that is often found in Titian’s subjects. Therefore the artist’s ability to depict the inner nature of the sitter became an incredibly subjective art. Initially when portraiture was only reserved for a specific social class, the aristocracy, the church and the upper middle class or bourgeoisie, it was necessary for the portrait to be a flattering representation of the subject. Eventually artists could freely express themselves in their own introspective manner when painting a portrait.

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Edward Burne-Jones

One of the last Pre-Raphaelites, Edward Burne-Jones brought imaginary worlds to life in awe-inspiring paintings, stained glass windows and tapestries

When Burne-Jones’ mural sized canvas of King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid  was exhibited in the shadow of the newly constructed Eiffel Tower at the Paris Exposition universelle in 1889, it caused a sensation scarcely less extraordinary than the tower itself. Burne-Jones was awarded not only a gold medal at the exhibition but also the cross of the Légion d’honneur.

King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid, 1880-1884. Oil on canvas, 290 x 136 cm. Tate Britain, London.

He became one of those rare “Anglo-Saxons” who, from Constable in the early nineteenth century to Jerry Lewis in the late twentieth century, have been taken into the hearts of the French intelligentsia. For a few years while the Burne-Jones craze lasted, fashionable French women dressed and comported themselves “à la Burne-Jones”, cultivating pale complexions, bruised eyes and an air of unhealthy exhaustion.

The Annunciation (“ The Flower of God”), 1863. Watercolour and gouache, 61 x 53.3 cm.
Collection. Lord Lloyd-Webber.

The two great French Symbolist painters Gustave Moreau and Pierre Puvis de Chavannes immediately recognised Burne-Jones as an artistic fellow traveller. In 1892, the cheer leader of the “Decadence” “Sâr” Joséphin Péladan, announced that Burne-Jones would be exhibiting at his newly launched Symbolist Salon de la Rose-Croix alongside Puvis de Chavannes and other leading French Symbolist and English Pre-Raphaelites. Burne-Jones wrote to his fellow artist George Frederick Watts “I don’t know about the Salon of the Rose-Cross — a funny high-fallutin’ sort of pamphlet has reached me — a letter asking me to exhibit there, but I feel suspicious of it.”

Sidonia von Bork, 1860. Watercolour and gouache,
33 x 17 cm. Tate Britain, London.

Like Puvis de Chavannes (who went so far as to write to Le Figaro denying any connection with the new Salon), Burne-Jones turned down the invitation. It is very unlikely that Burne-Jones would have accepted, or perhaps even have understood, the label of “Symbolist”. Yet, to our eyes, he seems to have been one of the most representative figures of the Symbolist movement and of that pervasive mood termed “fin de siècle”.

Going to the Battle, 1858. Grey pen and ink drawing on vellum paper, 22.5 x 19.5 cm.
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Symbolism was a late-nineteenth-century reaction to the positivist philosophy that had dominated the mid-century. It found expression in the gross materiality of the paintings of Courbet and Manet and the realist novels of Emile Zola and in Impressionism with its emphasis on sensory perception. Above all, it was a reaction against the belief in progress and modernity represented by the Eiffel Tower itself and against the triumph of industry and commerce celebrated in the vast “Hall of Machines” in the same exhibition, which had filled Puvis de Chavannes with horror and had given him nightmares.

Clara von Bork, 1860. Watercolour and gouache, 34 x 18 cm.
Tate Britain, London.

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When German soldiers used to come to my studio and look at my pictures of Guernica, they’d ask ‘Did you do this?’. And I’d say, ‘No, you did.’

Exhibition: Guernica

Date: March 27 – July 29, 2018

Venue: Musée national Picasso | Paris, France

When German soldiers used to come to my studio and look at my pictures of Guernica, they’d ask ‘Did you do this?’. And I’d say, ‘No, you did.’ – Pablo Picaaso

GUERNICA, 1937. Oil on canvas, 349.3 x 776.6 cm
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid

The bloody historical event that moved Picasso to create this masterpiece in one month took place shortly before its first exhibition at the 1937 World Exposition in Paris, where it was shown after it was commissioned by the government of the Spanish Republic. The images and feelings of the three-hour bombing and destruction of the Basque town of Guernica by Nazi planes were still fresh in the public consciousness. The brutally stark, monochrome work was controversial both as a reactive political statement and as art. The black and white must have been inspired by photographs taken of the war, such as those of Robert Capa. Despite the symbolism given to the different elements since the very creation of the painting, Picasso remained very secretive on the meanings of Guernica’s hidden themes and images.

Guernica state 1, 1937. Photograph by Dora Maar
Guernica state 3, 1937. Photograph by Dora Maar

Rarely do we get the chance to see a masterpiece in the making. Dora Maar, Picasso’s lover at the time, documented the frantic activity of Picasso during the month he spent working on what was to become Guernica. The photographs of these two states demonstrate that Picasso invented some of the painting as he went along. Note, in state 1, how a clenched fist takes up the space that would later be occupied by the head of the horse. Even when Picasso began applying paint to the canvas, we see elements that would be modified in the finished version.

Bull’s head. Study for ‘Guernica’, 1937. Graphite and gouache on tracing cloth, 23 x 29 cm. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid

One of the most recognisable figures in Guernica – and in Picasso’s whole oeuvre – is the bull. Many writers understand this to be a symbol of Spain, although Picasso is als noted to have said that in Guernica, it assumed the role of the brutality of fascism.

Mother and Dead Child (IV), 1937. Graphite, gouache, collage, and colour stick on tracing cloth, 23.1 x 29.2 cm. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía , Madrid

Although one of Guernica’s most distinctive and powerful elements is its reduced chromatic scale, Picasso achieves great dramatism in many of his coloured studies. Such is the case with this Mother and Dead Child, where Picasso even added real hair to the figure of the woman. The tight composition and the nervous, hard lines define its dramatic immediacy.

Head of a Weeping Woman (Study for ‘Guernica’), 1937.
Graphite, gouache, and colour stick on tracing cloth, 23.2 x 29.3 cm
Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía , Madrid

Of all the iconic images that make up Guernica, perhaps the most dramatic is the woman who screams in distress whilst holding her dead child in her arms. Picasso made many drawings and paintings depicting weeping women such as these. Although the present study of this screaming head is not like the one on the final painting, it gives us an insight into the many different possibilities that Picasso considered before making the final work. It also speaks of the artist’s original intentions of including colour in the painting.

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Mantegna and the Concept of Total Illusion

Exhibition: Mantegna and Bellini

Date: March 21 – July 1, 2018

Venue: Fondazione Querini Stampalia | Venice, Italy

Room of the bride and groom, 1470

The art of Andrea Mantegna (born c.1431, died 1506) has long maintained a broad and deep appeal. From the impressive illusionism of his earliest works to the narrative power of his mature paintings, Mantegna’s art remained vivid and heroic, dramatic and emotional. They are also painted in stunning detail: pebbles, blades of grass, veins, and hair are rendered with excruciating care, and he depicted even in his great narrative works the mundane particulars of earthly existence, showing laundry hanging out to dry and buildings fallen into disrepair. He had a deep interest in human nature and issues of moral character.

The Holy Family with St Elizabeth and the young St John, c. 1485-1488.
Tempera and gold on canvas, 62.9 x 51.3 cm. Kimbell Art Museum , Fort Worth.

Perhaps most strikingly, Mantegna’s pictures are filled with references to classical antiquity. No other painter of the fifteenth century so thoroughly understood and abundantly included in his art the costumes, drapery folds, inscriptions, architecture, subject matter, ethical attitude, and other aspects of ancient classical civilisation. And instead of the cool classicism of later centuries, his vision of Greco-Roman civilisation is lively and has a familiar and nostalgic air about it.

For him, antiquity was a near, palpable presence, one which he sought constantly to bring to colourful existence in his pictures. It is this thirst for a vanished classical past that places Mantegna most firmly in the context of his time, as his art was favoured most warmly by Renaissance contemporaries who shared his visionary quest to revive the moral strength and naturalism which marked the art of antiquity.

The Descent into Limbo, c. 1490. Tempera on panel, 38.2 x 42.3 cm.
Private collection.

Mantegna was a leader in the renewal of culture occurring during his time, a movement we call the Renaissance, or “rebirth.” In the fifteenth century, classical civilisation was a whole universe open to rediscovery. It offered an alternative to the confining, medieval world of scholastic thought and Christian theology. Classicism meant the liberation of the mind and the joys of literary study. The writers and artists of antiquity indulged freely in the delights of the material world, an attitude shared by Mantegna and many of his contemporaries.

Sandro Botticelli, St Augustine in his Cell, 1494. Tempera on panel, 41 x 27 cm.
Galleria degli Uffizi , Florence.

Renaissance men found spiritual ancestors from centuries past who had similar ideas about virtue and vice, and whose secular sensibility embraced a naturalistic art that was idealised in its formal perfection and its harmonious proportions. Mantegna painted his classical visions for enthusiasts, men and women who were dilettantes in the original sense of the word, delighting in their new discoveries. His life and works contributed to the air of celebration and self-congratulation characterising much of Renaissance culture.

Masolino, Healing of the Cripple and Raising of Tabatha, 1426-1427.
Fresco, 255 x 588 cm (full fresco). Brancacci Chapel, Santa Maria del
Carmine, Florence.

Some modern scholars avoid using the word “Renaissance” and, rather than see the period as being an age of confidence and a glorious rebirth of values, they describe Italian culture from 1400 to 1600 as one of conflicting interests, a hesitant and contradictory world in which the men and women cautiously “negotiated” their places in society. Period texts, however, reveal a mentality not as tentative and fearful as modern scholarship would have us believe.

Martyrdom of St Christopher, c. 1448-1457. Fresco. Ovetari Chapel,
Church of the Eremitani, Padua.

To be sure, the Renaissance had its political crises and social dislocations. It is important to bear in mind the larger picture: leading patrons, intellectuals, and artists in Italy felt they were living in a period of rebirth, and were forcibly helping to shape a new order of things. In the visual sphere, Renaissance writers about art – Lorenzo Ghiberti, Leon Battista Alberti, and Giorgio Vasari, for example – were quite clear in seeing the Middle Ages as a dark period, and their own age as one of enlightenment and human improvement. They looked back with admiration towards the achievement of the Greeks and Romans, and called for, not a bland imitation of antiquity, but an embracing of the ideals and values which made ancient societies superior to the cultural decline that followed: reason, an acceptance of natural law, and ethical moderation.

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William Morris: A Pattern is either right or wrong…It is no stronger than its weakest point

Exhibition: William Morris and the Arts & Crafts movement in Great Britain

Date: February 22 – May 20, 2018

Venue: Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya | Barcelona Spain

Edward Burne-Jones (for the design) and Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. (for the production), The God of Love and Alceste, 1861-1864. Stained glass window from Chaucer’s Goode Wimmen, 46.8 x 50.7 cm. Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

From the middle of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century, we have passed through a period of aesthetic discontent which continues and which is distinct from the many kinds of discontent by which men have been troubled in former ages. No doubt aesthetic discontent has existed before; men have often complained that the art of their own time was inferior to the art of the past; but they have never before been so conscious of this inferiority or felt that it was a reproach to their civilisation and a symptom of some disease affecting the whole of their society.

William Morris and William Frend De Morgan (for the design) and Architectural Pottery Co. (for the production), Panel of tiles, 1876. Slip-covered tiles, hand-painted in various colours, glazed on earthenware blanks, 160 x 91.5 cm. Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

We, powerful in many things beyond any past generation of men, feel that in this one respect we are more impotent than many tribes of savages. We can make things such as men have never made before; but we cannot express any feelings of our own in the making of them, and the vast new world of cities which we have made and are making so rapidly, seems to us, compared with the little slow-built cities of the past, either blankly inexpressive or pompously expressive of something which we would rather not have expressed. That is what we mean when we complain of the ugliness of most modern things made by men. They say nothing to us or they say what we do not want to hear, and therefore we should prefer a world without them.

Rose (detail), 1883. Pencil, pen, ink and watercolour on paper, 90.6 x 66.3 cm. Victoria & Albert Museum , London.

For us there is a violent contrast between the beauty of nature and the ugliness of man’s work which most past ages have felt little or not at all. We think of a town as spoiling the country, and even of a single modern house as a blot on the face of the earth. But in the past, until the eighteenth century, men thought that their own handiwork heightened the beauty of nature or was, at least, in perfect harmony with it. We are aware of this harmony in a village church or an old manor house or a thatched cottage, however plain these may be; and wonder at it as a secret that we have lost.

Indeed, it is a secret definitely lost in a period of about forty years, between 1790 and 1830. In the middle of the eighteenth century, foolish furniture, not meant for use, was made for the rich, both in France and in England; furniture meant to be used was simple, well made, and well proportioned. Palaces might have been pompous and irrational, but plain houses still possessed the merits of plain furniture. Indeed, whatever men made, without trying to be artistic, they made well; and their work had a quiet unconscious beauty, which passed unnoticed until the secret of it was lost.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (for the design) and Morris & Co. (for the production), The Rossetti Armchair, 1870-1890. Ebonized beech, with red painted decoration and rush seat, 88.8 x 49.5 x 53 cm. Victoria & Albert Museum , London.

When the catastrophe came, it affected less those arts such as painting, which are supported by the conscious patronage of the rich, than those more universal and necessary arts which are maintained by a general and unconscious liking for good workmanship and rational design. There were still painters like Turner and Constable, but soon neither rich nor poor could buy new furniture or any kind of domestic implement that was not hideous. Every new building was vulgar or mean, or both. Everywhere the ugliness of irrelevant ornament was combined with the meanness of grudged material and bad workmanship.

Tulip and Trellis, 1870. Hand-painted in blue and green on tin-glazed earthenware tile, 15.3 x 15.3 cm. Victoria & Albert Museum , London.

At the time no one seems to have noticed this change. None of the great poets of the Romantic Movement, except perhaps Blake, gives a hint of it. They turned with an unconscious disgust from the works of man to nature; and if they speak of art at all it is the art of the Middle Ages, which they enjoyed because it belonged to the past. Indeed the Romantic Movement, so far as it affected the arts at all, only afflicted them with a new disease. The Gothic revival, which was a part of the Romantic movement, expressed nothing but a vague dislike of the present with all its associations and a vague desire to conjure up the associations of the past as they were conjured up in Romantic poetry. Pinnacles, pointed arches and stained glass windows were symbols, like that blessed word Mesopotamia; and they were used without propriety or understanding. In fact, the revival meant nothing except that the public was sick of the native ugliness of its own time and wished to make an excursion into the past, as if for change of air and scene.

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William Morris: A Pattern is either right or wrong…It is no stronger than its weakest point

Exhibition: William Morris and the Arts & Crafts movement in Great Britain

Date: February 22 – May 20, 2018

Venue: Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya | Barcelona Spain

Edward Burne-Jones (for the design) and Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. (for the production), The God of Love and Alceste, 1861-1864. Stained glass window from Chaucer’s Goode Wimmen, 46.8 x 50.7 cm. Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

From the middle of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century, we have passed through a period of aesthetic discontent which continues and which is distinct from the many kinds of discontent by which men have been troubled in former ages. No doubt aesthetic discontent has existed before; men have often complained that the art of their own time was inferior to the art of the past; but they have never before been so conscious of this inferiority or felt that it was a reproach to their civilisation and a symptom of some disease affecting the whole of their society.

William Morris and William Frend De Morgan (for the design) and Architectural Pottery Co. (for the production), Panel of tiles, 1876. Slip-covered tiles, hand-painted in various colours, glazed on earthenware blanks, 160 x 91.5 cm. Victoria & Albert Museum, London.

We, powerful in many things beyond any past generation of men, feel that in this one respect we are more impotent than many tribes of savages. We can make things such as men have never made before; but we cannot express any feelings of our own in the making of them, and the vast new world of cities which we have made and are making so rapidly, seems to us, compared with the little slow-built cities of the past, either blankly inexpressive or pompously expressive of something which we would rather not have expressed. That is what we mean when we complain of the ugliness of most modern things made by men. They say nothing to us or they say what we do not want to hear, and therefore we should prefer a world without them.

Rose (detail), 1883. Pencil, pen, ink and watercolour on paper, 90.6 x 66.3 cm. Victoria & Albert Museum , London.

For us there is a violent contrast between the beauty of nature and the ugliness of man’s work which most past ages have felt little or not at all. We think of a town as spoiling the country, and even of a single modern house as a blot on the face of the earth. But in the past, until the eighteenth century, men thought that their own handiwork heightened the beauty of nature or was, at least, in perfect harmony with it. We are aware of this harmony in a village church or an old manor house or a thatched cottage, however plain these may be; and wonder at it as a secret that we have lost.

Indeed, it is a secret definitely lost in a period of about forty years, between 1790 and 1830. In the middle of the eighteenth century, foolish furniture, not meant for use, was made for the rich, both in France and in England; furniture meant to be used was simple, well made, and well proportioned. Palaces might have been pompous and irrational, but plain houses still possessed the merits of plain furniture. Indeed, whatever men made, without trying to be artistic, they made well; and their work had a quiet unconscious beauty, which passed unnoticed until the secret of it was lost.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (for the design) and Morris & Co. (for the production), The Rossetti Armchair, 1870-1890. Ebonized beech, with red painted decoration and rush seat, 88.8 x 49.5 x 53 cm. Victoria & Albert Museum , London.

When the catastrophe came, it affected less those arts such as painting, which are supported by the conscious patronage of the rich, than those more universal and necessary arts which are maintained by a general and unconscious liking for good workmanship and rational design. There were still painters like Turner and Constable, but soon neither rich nor poor could buy new furniture or any kind of domestic implement that was not hideous. Every new building was vulgar or mean, or both. Everywhere the ugliness of irrelevant ornament was combined with the meanness of grudged material and bad workmanship.

Tulip and Trellis, 1870. Hand-painted in blue and green on tin-glazed earthenware tile, 15.3 x 15.3 cm. Victoria & Albert Museum , London.

At the time no one seems to have noticed this change. None of the great poets of the Romantic Movement, except perhaps Blake, gives a hint of it. They turned with an unconscious disgust from the works of man to nature; and if they speak of art at all it is the art of the Middle Ages, which they enjoyed because it belonged to the past. Indeed the Romantic Movement, so far as it affected the arts at all, only afflicted them with a new disease. The Gothic revival, which was a part of the Romantic movement, expressed nothing but a vague dislike of the present with all its associations and a vague desire to conjure up the associations of the past as they were conjured up in Romantic poetry. Pinnacles, pointed arches and stained glass windows were symbols, like that blessed word Mesopotamia; and they were used without propriety or understanding. In fact, the revival meant nothing except that the public was sick of the native ugliness of its own time and wished to make an excursion into the past, as if for change of air and scene.

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