Sunday, 30 October 2011

A Passion for the Pre-Raphaelites by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber is best known for the musicals that made him a multi-millionaire. He was less well known for his passion in the work of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood - until he presented a documentary where he talks about their work, their lives, and their long term influence.

Growing up in London in the 1960s, he visited local churches and saw the works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones in the stained glass windows. He then became a regular visitor to London's Tate Gallery collection in the Pre-Raphaelite gallery.

Interestingly, he explains that unfashionable Victorian paintings could be bought very cheaply at the time. He became wealthy after the hit musical Jesus Christ Superstar in the early 1970's and started what he calls 'serious' art collecting.

He is coy about what it has cost but he has paid record prices at art auctions, paying £17M for a Picasso and his collection includes A Vision of Fiammetta , one of Rossetti's last paintings. Pride of place, of course, goes to one of the eight versions of Rossetti’s ‘Proserpine’.

Andrew Lloyd Webber He makes a good case for their lasting impact not just on art, but also architecture and the way we now think about the Victorians. Disappointingly, he made no mention in the programme of John Ruskin, although there were several opportunities to do so.

The documentary should be available on this link until the 2nd November 2011

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Last Pre-Raphaelite

Fiona MacCarthy brings us a little closer to understanding Edward Burne-Jones.  You may know her from William Morris: A Life for Our Time and, once again, we are transported to the world of the Victorians.   

As Susan Engel wrote: Context is everything - and Fiona MacCarthy reminds us of the need to interpret Burne-Jones through an appreciation of the Victorian imagination.  It is no coincidence that Fiona Chose The Beguiling of Merlin for the cover - a painting about love and infatuation, entrapment and betrayal. 

The Last Pre-Raphaelite is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US