Richard McDougall Lecture Autumn 2012

Breaking with Tradition: Experimental Watercolour Painting in Mid-nineteenth-century Britain

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

17.30 - 18.30, Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre

angel sitting on top of a hill by the sea
Simeon Solomon (1840-1905), Dawn, 1871. Courtesy: Birmingham Museums

Speaker(s): Dr Colin Cruise (Research Lecturer, School of Art, Aberystwyth University)

Ticket/entry details: Open to all, free admission

Organised by: Ernst Vegelin/ Caroline Arscott

In the 1850s, the ‘pure watercolour’ that had emerged in England in the eighteenth century was challenged in a new handling of the medium. Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his younger followers rejected the ‘pure’ wash technique advocated by the celebrated watercolourists of an earlier generation.  Instead, they experimented with the rich pigments of watercolour to produce works with opaque rather than stained or transparent surfaces.  In addition, these new watercolours had complex, poetic subjects, illustrative of sexual passion and desire.

This talk will trace the history of these significant changes in the techniques, status and function of watercolour painting and consider the collection, exhibition and critical reception of works by Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Simeon Solomon and Elizabeth Siddal, among others.

Colin Cruise is Research Lecturer at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University. He curated the exhibition The Poetry of Drawing; Pre-Raphaelite Drawings, Designs and Watercolours for Birmingham Art Gallery and AGNSW, Sydney in 2010-11. His recent publications include the book Pre-Raphaelite Drawing (Thames and Hudson, 2010) and a chapter in The Cambridge Companion to the Pre-Raphaelites (2012).

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