Pre-Raphaelites Talk by John Elliot

Report by Melissa Wadsworth

Dr. John Elliot gave an excellent talk on the Pre-Raphaelites to 30 SGA members at Sarum College on Monday 20th January.  The very informative slide show was given with great enthusiasm.  Starting with who the Pre-Raphaelites were, when they formed and what the young artists were rebelling against.  He described how they painted directly onto a white canvas using only small paint brushes to help them increase their attention to detail and the technological advances of the time ‘paint in tubes’ so the artist could paint in situ!  We covered urbanisation, industrialisation and how the 1851 census re-worked the statistics to bolster ‘C of E’ as the most dominant religion.  John then showed several paintings, explaining that almost everything painted within the Pre-Raphaelites used symbolism.  Starting with William Holman Hunt’s The Light of the World (1853) and The Awakening Conscience (1853) by the same artist.  He then moved onto paintings by John Everett Millais, Autumn Leaves (1856), Vale of Rest (1859) and Christ in the House of His Parents (The Carpenter’s Shop) (1850).  We talked about the significance of apples, red hair, and weeds, and who was wearing rings or not!

John gave so much information with generosity and enthusiasm in such a short space of time, which was received with great thanks.  John finished the evening with the question:  how could we use symbolism in our own paintings?


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