Monday, June 30, 2008

The Last Romantics


The Last Romantics is a book I return to over and over again while doing research for this blog. It is, without a doubt, the best overall book on the Pre-Raphaelites and Symbolists that exists in print, especially for someone looking for information on specific artworks.

I still remember finding a copy at the University library and realizing I'd hit the jackpot! It's stuffed with lavish photographs and excellent articles on the artists and their work (I've noticed that a lot of museums seem to be lifting catalogue descriptions from this book--either that, or the book is borrowing its articles from museum catalogues. Either way, your getting a very reliable resource, though you can certainly tell that the writers are clearly art historians, not historians--I would have been hauled before an ethics committee in no time if I'd been that cavalier with my sources).

Back to the book itself! The Last Romantics covers the romantic tradition in British Art from Edward Burne-Jones to Stanley Spencer. Hundreds of paintings are included in the volume, though the authors have chosen to steer clear of the decorative arts. The book is filled with unabashed praise for the romantic movement, which is something of a coup, since curators are (generally speaking) rather fond of mocking romantic painters, the Pre-Raphaelites in particular.

If you ever come across a copy of this book, buy it! And if you find two, send me one! I still have mine from the library, but I think I'm going to have to break down and order a copy from Amazon (a couple of the copies available from sellers in the United States are very affordable). The University is going to make me return it sooner or later!

Image courtesy Amazon.com

4 comments:

Melanie said...

Thanks for the book recommendation. I'm always on the look out for new fodder. :-) 2 arrived today from Amazon so I had to have an extended coffee break.

Have you read "The Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood"? I'd love to know what you think. I read far too indiscriminately and then wonder where I picked up some bit of gos from. LOL

There's a huge Klimpt exhibition on at the Tate in Liverpool until August. His lot had a similar ethic of beauty surrounding you in everyday living thst the A+Cs had. It'll be interesting to see the European take.

Gillian L. said...

I am curious why were the Pre -Raphaelites were looked down upon as artists and wondered if you could tell me?

Margaret you are a very talented writer and I am in awe of your ability to post such detailed and beautifully written posts. I am certain your future is full of the most wonderful career!

Gillian

Margaret said...

Thanks, Gillian! You made my day!

The short answer to your quetion comes in two parts: first, in their own time period, the Pre-Raphaelites were looked down on because they did not follow the conventions of their Victorian contemporaries.

In the modern period (the irony!), the Pre-Raphaelites have been lumped together with the Victorians and are seen as a trite symbol of Victorian sentamentalism--which is the total opposite of what they were seeking to acheive!

I will do a post on this next week! Thank you for the question!

~Margaret

Gillian L. said...

Thank you Margaret for answering my question. I would like to read more about this subject and I am looking forward to your post on it.

"Happy Canada Day" to you!

Gillian