Frederic Leighton

Antiquity, Renaissance, Modernity

Edited by Tim Barringer and Elizabeth Prettejohn

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Liberated from the constraints of tradition, the Pre-Raphaelites of mid-Victorian England produced distinctive representations of nature and society in paintings remarkable for their compositional vitality and hallucinatory effects of color. This lavishly illustrated book provides a fresh appraisal of the Pre-Raphaelite artists and their radical departure from artistic conventions. Tim Barringer explores the meanings so richly encoded in Pre-Raphaelite paintings and analyzes key pictures and their significance within the complex social and cultural matrix of nineteenth-century Britain. In chapters devoted to core themes, the author discusses such artists as John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Ford Madox Brown and their engagement with medieval revivalism, nature worship, issues of class and gender, and the reconciliation of the religious image and realism.

Barringer draws on an imaginative selection of paintings, drawings, and contemporary photographs to suggest that the dynamic energy of Pre-Raphael-ism arose from paradoxes at its heart. Past and present, historicism and modernity, symbolism and realism, as well as tensions between city and country, man and woman, worker and capitalist, colonizer and colonized—all appear within Pre-Raphaelite art. Focusing on these issues, the author casts new light on the Pre-Raphaelites and their innovative work.

Tim Barringer is assistant professor in the Department of the History of Art at Yale University. Elizabeth Prettejohn is a lecturer at the University of Plymouth in England.


"[This book] provide[s] a very useful and extremely important examination of Leighton’s work in the context of his age and . . . interesting sidelights into his home, his interest in music, and his promotion of new painting."—Martin Chasin, Library Journal

"A fascinating alternative to received Francocentric views of the development of modernism and essential reading for those interested in Victorian art and aestheticism."—Choice

ISBN: 9780300079371
Publication Date: February 8, 1999
Co-publisher: Published for the Paul Mellon Center for Studies in British Art
384 pages, 7 x 10
100 b/w + 17 color illus.
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