- Objects of Desire: Victorian Art at the Art Institute of Chicago by Gregory Nosan, and A Pre-Raphaelite Marriage: The Lives and Works of Marie Spartali Stillman and William James Stillman by David B. Elliott (review)
- Victorian Review
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 34, Number 2, Fall 2008
- pp. 243-246
- View Citation
- Additional Information
243 Reviews the surface in the Morris section (my favourite chapter), imagines a world in which labour is aligned with pleasure. It imagines a world, in other words, in which labour, critique, and pleasure “work” together. Works Cited Moretti, Franco.“On the Novel.” The Novel: History,Geography,Culture.Ed. Franco Moretti. Vol. 1. Princeton: Princeton UP, 2006. ix-x. Ba r ba r a Leckie Carleton University • Objects of Desire: Victorian Art at the Art Institute of Chicago by Gregory Nosan et al.; pp. 96. New Haven and London:Yale UP, 2005. $16.95 paper. A Pre-Raphaelite Marriage:The Lives and Works of Marie Spartali Stillman and William James Stillman by David B. Elliott; pp. 247. Woodbridge, UK:Antique Collectors’ Club Ltd., 2006. $105.00 cloth. Museum Studies has devoted special issues to particular subjects and collections , in this instance inviting scholars both from within and beyond the Art Institute of Chicago to discuss the strengths of its Victorian art.With editor Gregory Nosan and curator of prints and drawings MarthaTedeschi ably leading the way in a joint introduction, the essays in Objects of Desire embrace a diverse range of topics and objects.The collective effect (pun intended) offers the viewer/reader insight into the high calibre ofVictorian“objects of desire” in the Art Institute’s collections and makes some new scholarly contributions to the field ofVictorian visual studies. Tedeschi’s essay “‘Where the Picture Cannot Go, the Engravings Penetrate’: Prints and the Victorian Art Market” considers how technological advances in producing cheaper mass reproductions, especially engravings of admired Royal Academy and similar pictures,encouraged patronage among both the rich and the non-elite.As a result, middle-class purchasers could join the wealthy in owning affordable versions of famous pictures like Holman Hunt’s The Light of theWorld, a favorite adornment on parlour walls. Prints of both genre and religious subjects proved especially appealing,and artists often earned huge sums by granting copyright permission to have engravings made of the original canvases. In addition, Tedeschi surveys the rise of photography and photomechanical methods and how these also satisfied consumer demand and enthusiasm forVictorian art. In“Telling Stories in the GothicVein:William Burges and the Art of Painted Furniture,”Ghenete Zelleke,Samuel and M.Patricia Grober Curator of European victorian review • Volume 34 Number 2 244 DecorativeArts, reflects on a splendid example of a sideboard and wine cabinet by William Burges in the museum’s collection. Burges both wrote about and created neo-Gothic decorative arts, and anticipated the revival of Gothic art and culture subsequently championed by Augustus Pugin.This cabinet resembles a building and has a series of inlaid diptychs,with the four main panels illustrating the martyrdom of Saint Bacchus.In terms of both craftsmanship and symbolism, this piece serves as an extraordinary testament to the power medievalism had in reinvigorating Victorian culture, whether in furniture, buildings, or paintings . In addition, a brief report by Emily Heye,Assistant Conservator of Objects, chronicles the conservation of the sideboard/cabinet, revealing the existence of multiple layers of white and colour as well as gilding and glazing,which achieves a final jewel-like impact. In “True to the Senses and False in its Essence: Still-Life and Trompe l’Oeil Painting inVictorianAmerica,” Judith Barter, Curator ofAmericanArt, shifts the discussion to the U.S., focusing on how parallel preoccupations with material goods and prosperity manifested themselves in the realm of still-life pictures. She makes some worthwhile points about gendered spaces and the kinds of stilllife art these rooms contained and complemented. From the dining room, for example, she selects an elaborate sideboard decorated with hunting and game motifs and links these with how imagery in paintings like John F. Francis’s Wine, Cheese,and Fruit underscored the masculine activities of hunting, eating, smoking , and drinking. Particularly notable and innovative is the author’s analysis of the politicized content of DeScott Evans’s The Irish Question and Charles Meurer’s hyper-realistic mixture of the Confederacy, counterfeiting, and currency in Still Life with Currency. Debra Mancoff, an international expert on Pre-Raphaelitism, writes an excellent essay entitled “Unpainted Masterpieces: The Drawings of Edward Burne-Jones,” examining the pages of a...