The Pre-Raphaelite Lens

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9781848220676: The Pre-Raphaelite Lens

As photography steadily gained a foothold in the 1840s, a group of British painters calling themselves the Pre-Raphaelites came of age. Answering John Ruskin's call to study nature, 'rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning nothing,' these young painters were also spurred on by the possibilities of the new medium (introduced in 1839), particularly its ability to capture every nuance, every detail. And yet, the Pre-Raphaelites' debt to photography has barely been acknowledged. From photography, painters learned to see anew: adapting such radical qualities as abrupt cropping, planar recession, and a lack of modulation between forms, painters made their art modern, sometimes shockingly so. Photographers in turn looked to Pre-Raphaelite visual strategies and subject matter - mined from literature, history, religion - to secure,' as Julia Margaret Cameron wrote, 'the character and uses of High Art.' These artists developed a shared vocabulary - featuring light and minute detail as an emblem of visual truth - which helped launch realism as the century's dominant visual mode. 'Exactness,' a critic affirmed in 1856, 'is the tendency of the age.' This volume explores the rich dialogue between photography and painting through the themes of landscape, portraiture, literary and historical narratives and modern-life subjects. These artists - from photographers Lewis Carroll, Julia Margaret Cameron, Roger Fenton, Henry Peach Robinson and Oscar Gustave Rejlander, to such painters as John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John William Inchbold - not only had much in common, but also upended traditional approaches to making pictures.

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About the Author:

Diane Waggoner is Associate Curator in the Department of Photographs at the National Gallery of Art. Tim Barringer is the Paul Mellon Professor of the History of Art at Yale University. Joanne Lukitsh is Professor of Art History at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Jennifer L. Roberts is the Gardner Cowles Associate Professor of History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University. Britt Salvesen is Department Head and Curator of the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Review:

'Although generally considered to be a movement associated solely with painting, the Pre-Raphaelites can be shown to have been profoundly affected by the invention of photography from the 1840s onwards. This groundbreaking book traces these influences and affinities through a close examination of both paintings and photographs. The book is well illustrated and, with its many scholarly essays, will remain a useful reference work for many years to come.' --Arlis

'full of images which reward long study. It is thoroughly refreshing to discover a revealing new study which adds considerably to our knowledge and understanding of this movement within the context of the artists' contemporary world, and which sets out to juxtapose two distinct art forms in search of a unifying harmony.' --Albion Magazine Online

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