A Very Short History of Art: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Realism, and Impressionism

1 Camille Corot A View Near Volterra 1838
Camille Corot, ‘A View Near Volterra’, 1838. Neither Romantic nor Realist, but merging aspects of both, this view is a real one, based on sketches Corot made on a visit to Italy a decade before.

From the early Christian period to the Rococo, the story of European art is one of evolution: the Gothic art of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries blossomed into the Renaissance of the fifteenth and sixteenth, which developed into the elaborate Baroque of the seventeenth century, which reached the furthest extent of its development in the Rococo of the early eighteenth. Only at that point did a conscious disconnection from the immediately preceding style occur, first in the opposition of Neoclassicism to the principles of the Rococo, and then in the rebellion of Romanticism against the principles of Neoclassicism.

But as we move into the nineteenth century, something different happens. For the first time, rather than a single, unified artistic school or a pair of opposing schools we encounter the beginnings of a plurality of distinct artistic styles. These styles sprang from different, sometimes conflicting, artistic philosophies, but they coexisted alongside one another, and in doing so arguably laid the groundwork for the endless variation in artistic expression which would be produced by the artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Continue reading “A Very Short History of Art: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Realism, and Impressionism”

Paintings You Should Know: William Holman Hunt’s ‘The Light of the World’

Light of the World Keble original
Hunt’s original ‘The Light of the World’, painted 1851-53, now hanging in Keble College, Oxford.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me”. (Revelation 3:20)

‘Not very good’ is a common modern description of Hunt’s most famous painting, and yet it was, and remains wildly popular: so much so that there are in fact three versions. The original, painted between 1851 and 1853 from a live model by night at Worcester Park Farm in Surrey, hangs in a side-room off the chapel at Keble College, Oxford. A life-sized version, painted in 1854, toured the world at the start of the 20th century and now hangs in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, and the third currently hangs in Manchester City Art Gallery. Continue reading “Paintings You Should Know: William Holman Hunt’s ‘The Light of the World’”