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292Victorian Review Ellen Harding, (ed.). Re-framing the Pre-Raphaelites: Historical and Theoretical Essays. Aldershot England: Scolar P, 1996. xiv + 287. $76.95 US (cloth). The Pre-Raphaelite movement fascinates scholars with the diversity of the people and the broad range of themes involved. And the collection of essays edited by Ellen Harding for Scolar Press reflects the heterogeneity of Pre-Raphaelitism. The fourteen essays, five of them based on papers given at the 10th Annual Conference of the Association of Art Historians, examine the production and reception of Pre-Raphaelite art in relation to questions of gender, class, ethnicity, national and regional identity, and patronage. The figures discussed range from well-known participants such as Holman Hunt (three essays) to lesser known figures such as P.H. Calderón, and works such as Ford Madox Brown's Work to Simeon Solomon's Bacchus. But some of the most interesting essays are those which consider aspects of influence, both on the PRB and the PRB on those who followed. The collection begins with an examination of Pre-Raphaelite patronage by Dianne Macleod. Assessing the value of different theoretical approaches, she argues that critical-theoretical analysis needs to be made in an historical framework, "!«conceptualizing the way in which the historic, professional, familial, cultural and personal interact with one another," in order to avoid "the danger of turning scholarship into fantasy" (25). The second essay, Philip McEvansoneya's "The Cosmopolitan Club Exhibition of 1863: The British salon de refusés" investigates the 1863 protest exhibition organized by Holman Hunt, and discusses the exhibition as an important precursor the later London salons des refusés. From there the collection examines individual artists and works, then themes and influences. For example, Jan Marsh's essay, " 'For the Wolf or the Babe He Is Seeking to Devour?' The Hidden Impact of the American Civil War on British Art" is a fascinating reading of Rossetti's The Beloved contextualized by the debates over racial supremacy in nineteenthcentury Britain and the impact of the American Civil War. Marsh concludes that "The Beloved is not at all about the power of female beauty to arouse men. It is about male power to look, to depict to buy, to sell, to possess and to display. Ostensibly a picture about femininity, The Beloved is actually a depiction of white masculinity" (124). Gender issues pervade several of the essays in the collection. Allison Smith's examination of Millais's Knight Errant finds the public debate about the nude encompassing issues of female enfranchisement as well as religion and morality, and finally one of nationalism. The role of women as the center of moral strength and convention is also an issue Reviews293 in Susan Casteras's essay examining the presentation of women in scenes of traditional domesticity. She finds that despite the "air of serenity and seeming order," there are often hidden complexities centering around sexuality and the prescribed roles of everyday life (149). Masculinity is the central theme in two essays, Colin Cruise's " 'Lovely Devils': Simeon Solomon and Pre-Raphaelite Masculinity" and Julie Codell's "The Artist Colonized: Holman Hunt's 'Bio-history,' Masculinity, Nationalism and the English School." Cruise's comparison of Solomon's male figures with Rossetti's female figures leads to the conclusion that the similarity in representations creates a sexual ambiguity in Solomon's male figures resulting in homoeroticism. Cruise then moves to the criticism of Walter Pater to argue that Pater created a new type of masculinity in response to muscular Christianity, and concludes that while Solomon's priestly men can not be directly linked to Pater's later concept of "masculine expression/expressionlessness," one does help us recognize and understand the other. In contrast, Codell focuses on Holman Hunt's Pre-Raphaelitism and the PreRaphaelite Brotherhood as a means of revising conceptions surrounding the PRB, distancing it from Pre-Raphaelite aestheticism and its associations with the effeminate and the perverted. She concludes that "Hunt's manly artistic persona" was intentionally gendered and nationalistic in order to assert both the Englishness and the authority of Pre-Raphaelitism. All of the articles within the collection are well written and insightful, and the varied topics ensure...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 292-293
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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