Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Pre-Raphaelites at Wallington Hall

Last Friday I finally visited Wallington Hall in Northumberland, the home of the Trevelyan's. The Trevelyan's were great patrons and supporters of the Pre-Raphaelites and the Central Hall is an example of a Pre-Raphaelite decorative scheme. Although the electric 'Victorianess' may not be to everyone's taste no-one can deny its uniqueness. For a Pre-Raphaelite enthusiastic it is simply fabulous and of course a little bit bonkers. Below are my photographs and a little bit of information.

Central Hall
The central hall was designed by John Dobson of Newcastle and it was built between 1853-4. The style is inspired by a palazzo of the Italian Renaissance, supported by Ruskin in his The Stones of Venice. 

William Bell Scott paintings
In March 1856 William Bell Scott, a good friend of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was commissioned by Calverley and Pauline Trevelyan to decorate the Central Hall with wall paintings. The result is eight tableaux illustrating various points of history of the north east region. They are painted in beautiful Pre-Raphaelite attention to detail and Bell Scott handled the paint so minutely it is hard to decipher the brush strokes. The details below reveal how detailed they were painted - especially the fabric.
King Eg frid and St Cuthbert (detail)

King Eg frid and St Cuthbert (detail)

King Eg frid and St Cuthbert (detail)

King Eg frid and St Cuthbert (detail)
Death of Bede (detail)
The Spur in the Dish (detail)
In the 19th Century the Northumbrians show the world what can be done with Iron and Coal
This is probably the most famous of the series and never one of my personal favourites, although when you see it in situ you certainly appreciate it a bit more!
Wall Paintings
As you can from Iron and Coal the walls of the central hall are painted with flowers and plants to further the illusion of being outside.
William Bell Scott's monogram

Wall mural painted by Pauline Trevelyan

Wall mural by Ruskin
Having recently completed an essay on the subject of Pre-Raphaelite sculpture, particularly focusing on Thomas Woolner's portrait sculpture, it was fantastic to see some sculpture in the setting for which it was designed.

Thomas Woolner, Civilisation. The sculpture depicts a mother teaching her young son to recite the Lords Prayer.

The plinth on which the figures stand is carved with scenes of Pagan savagery. 

Alexander Munro, Pauline, Lady Trevelyan

Munro's famous Paolo and Francesca from 1851 is placed in the staircase hall. It is small plaster cast created for the Great Exhibition.

Lady Trevelyan's Parlour
This room is decorated with Morris & Co. wallpaper and carpet.There is also a Burne-Jones painting that I did not get a good photograph of - The Pilgrim at the Gate of Idleness. 
William Bell Scott, Pauline Trevelyan, 1864

William Bell Scott, Sir Walter Calverley Trevelyan, 6th Bt, 1859

There are so many fascinating examples of Pre-Raphaelitism as well as other artists such as Frith, Turner, Lucas Cranach, Reynolds and Gainsborough - definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the vicinity. I certainly could spend hours in the Central Hall.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Pre-Raphaelite ugliness?

The Pre-Raphaelites were often associated with ugliness, especially in the 1850s, but this article I came across while doing research for my MA dissertation possibly is one of the most entertaining! 

Dedea Redanies was convicted in 1857 for the murder of Caroline and Maria Back. It evidently was an infamous case as although the crime occurred in Dover the article in question comes from a Sheffield newspaper.

Here are a couple of extracts from the article;

“As a proof of the singular character of this man we have been favoured with the sight of a little memento he gave to a man appointed to watch over him.” 

These 'mementos' were drawings of the murders which I have included below.
The article then goes onto say that; “Both drawings are extremely well done, considering the unfavourable nature of the materials at the prisoner’s command, while there is a quite a Pre-Raphaelite minuteness of detail” - (‘Sentence of Death of the Dover Double Murderer, The Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, Saturday December 27, 1856.)

Typical Victorians to turn a news article about an awful crime into an art review!