Pre-Raphaelitism: Past, Present and Future

13–14 September 2013, Ashmolean Museum and St John’s College, Oxford

Keynote speakers

  • Dr Alison Smith (Tate Britain)
  • Professor Isobel Armstrong (Birkbeck)

Context and aims

In the wake of recent major exhibitions and publications such as Tate Britain’s Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde and The Cambridge Companion to Pre-Raphaelitism, this two-day conference will present new and innovative approaches to the study of Pre-Raphaelitism by bringing together established academics, museum curators and research students. This conference also seeks to examine Pre-Raphaelitism as a bridge between Romanticism and Aestheticism, and to engage with current critical work regarding its relationship to Modernism in literature.

The breadth and diversity of Pre-Raphaelite art, literature and design will be drawn on in order to consider major questions such as: What is Pre-Raphaelitism? Where does the movement begin and end? Who should be included or excluded? What are its major influences, and to what extent has it influenced other artists and movements? How have perceptions of Pre-Raphaelitism changed or remained the same since its nineteenth-century beginnings?

Format and themes

This will be a two-day conference, organized jointly by Professor Christiana Payne and Dr Dinah Roe (Oxford Brookes University), Colin Harrison (Ashmolean Museum) and Dr Alastair Wright (Oxford University). Academic sessions will be held at the Ashmolean Museum (Friday 13 September) and St John’s College (Saturday 14 September). A programme of guided walks and talks around Pre-Raphaelite sites in Oxford will be held on Sunday 15 September.

Provisional programme (subject to change)

Day One: Ashmolean Museum, Friday 13 September
08:30–09:30 Registration, Coffee and welcome from Professor Christopher Brown (Headley Lecture Theatre)
09:30–11:00 Session 1 (parallel sessions)

1A. Origins (Headley Lecture Theatre)

Professor Stephen Wildman, Ruskin Library and Research Centre, Lancaster University
Did Ruskin like Pre-Raphaelitism?

Dr Colin Trodd, University of Manchester
A Modern Painter: William Blake and the Pre-Raphaelite Syndicate

Enrique Olivares, University of Puerto Rico
Sonnets for Pictures: A Genealogy of Influence

1B. Techniques: poetry, drama and watercolour (Taylorian Institute)

Dr Jodi-Anne George, University of Dundee
The Aristophanes of Hammersmith: William Morris as Playwright

Peter Faulkner, University of Exeter
Poetic innovation: William Morris’s Love is Enough

Dr Fiona Mann, Independent scholar
The Materials and Techniques of Burne-Jones’s Watercolours 1857–1880

11:00–11:30 Coffee
11:30–13:00 Session 2 (parallel sessions)

2A. Writing about Art (Headley Lecture Theatre)

Professor Daniel Karlin, University of Bristol
Robert Browning’s poem ‘A Face’

Dr Paola Spinozzi, University of Ferrara
Critical Aesthetic Prose in The Germ as the Foundation of William Michael Rossetti’s and Frederic George Stephens’s Art Criticism

Dr Nic Peeters, Northern Europe correspondent British Art Journal and Judy Oberhausen, Independent Art Historian
‘Why were there so many Pre-Raphaelite Women Artists?’

2B. Desire (Taylorian Institute)

Dr Patricia Pulham, University of Portsmouth
Taking marble for a grave: Poetry, Form and Eroticism in Arthur O’Shaughnessy’s ‘Thoughts in Marble’

Dr Jose Maria Mesa-Villar, Universidad de Jaén
‘Sideways would she lean and sing a faery’s song’: an interdisciplinary approach to deception and failed communication issues in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s renditions of John Keats’ ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’

Professor Anna Gruetzner Robins, University of Reading
Doubling Desire: Michael Field and Rossetti in the 1890s

1:00–14:00 Lunch
14:00–15:30 Session 3 (parallel sessions)

3A. Music (Headley Lecture Theatre)

Dr Paul Barlow, University of Northumbria
Millais’ Music

Annika Eisenberg, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany
‘Sing no sad song for me’ - Musical Reception of Dante Gabriel’s and Christina Rossetti’s Poetry

Dr Caroline Jackson-Houlston, Oxford Brookes University
‘Verses that no one would be able to tell from the original stuff’? ‘PreRaphaelite’ literary ballads

3B. Pre-Raphaelite Categorisation (Taylorian Institute)

Dr Amelia Yeates, Liverpool Hope University
The Other Pre-Raphaelites: Narrative and Genre Painters of the 1850s and 1860s

Claire Yearwood, University of York
The Arnolfini Doppelgänger: Mirrors in Pre-Raphaelite Painting

Madeleine Pearce, Birkbeck, University of London
‘Fair was the web, and nobly wrought’: Digital curation and the Pre-Raphaelites

15:30–16:00 Tea
16:00–17:00 Plenary lecture: Dr Alison Smith, Tate Gallery, Curating the Pre-Raphaelites: Past, Present and Future
Headley Lecture Theatre
18:30 Wine reception and viewing of exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite Drawings, Watercolours and Manuscripts, Tapestry Gallery, Ashmolean Museum
Day Two: St John’s College
09:30–10:00 Registration and coffee (St John’s College Auditorium)
10:00 Plenary lecture: Professor Isobel Armstrong, Birkbeck, University of London, Mirrors, Folds, Mirrors: Pre-Raphaelite Poetry and Poetics
St John’s College Auditorium
11:00–11:30 Coffee
11:30–13:00 Session 4 (parallel sessions)

4A. Materialism and the spirit world (St John’s College Auditorium)

Dr John Holmes, University of Reading
Reading the Pre-Raphaelites in the Fortnightly Review

Professor J.B. Bullen, University of Reading and Royal Holloway, University of London
Raising the dead: Pre-Raphaelite Spiritualism

Carey Gibbons, Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London
The Angelic and the Astronomical in Arthur Hughes’s Periodical Illustrations

4B. Mythology and Belief (seminar room)

Dr Stephen Cheeke, University of Bristol
Rossetti and Pastiche

Dr Roberto C. Ferrari, Columbia University
Pre-Raphaelite Exotica: Fanny Eaton and Simeon Solomon’s Mother of Moses

Dr Carolyn Conroy, University of York
Saints and Demons: Simeon Solomon’s Artwork in the Ashmolean Museum Collection

13:00–14:00 Lunch
14:00–15:30 Session 5 (parallel sessions)

5A. Rediscoveries: Siddal, Woolner and Stanhope (St John’s College Auditorium)

Dr Serena Trowbridge, Birmingham City University
My Lady’s Soul: The Poetry of Elizabeth Siddal

Dr Angie Dunstan, University of Kent
‘A Poetical Sculptor’: Thomas Woolner and the Past, Present and Future of Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture

Simon Poë, British Art Journal
The Ascendancy of Christ by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope in St John the Evangelist, Hoylandswaine

5B. Art and the Senses, the Verbal and the Visual (seminar room)

Professor Catherine Maxwell, Queen Mary, University of London
Swinburne’s Scented Language

Dr Christina Bradstreet, Sotheby’s Institute of Art
Scent and Salvation: The Odour of the Rainbow in Millais’s The Blind Girl and Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale’s The Lover’s World

Martina John, Christian Albrechts University, Kiel
States of Transition: D. G. Rossetti’s Multi-Panel-Paintings Before and After 1860

15:30–14:00 Tea
16:00–15:30 Session 6 (parallel sessions)

6A. The Pre-Raphaelite influence on avant-gardes (St John’s College Auditorium)

Professor Jason Rosenfeld, Marymount Manhattan College
Pre-Raphaelite influences in film and popular culture

Dr Carol Jacobi, Tate Gallery
Pre-Raphaelitism and C20th Modernism

Dr Elisa Bizzotto, IUAV University of Venice
The Germ and its Offspring. An Interart and Intercultural Perspective

6B. Interiors (seminar room)

Professor Wendy Parkins, University of Kent
New Approaches to Red House

Dr Margaretta Frederick, Delaware Art Museum
‘Products’ of ‘artistic effect’: the lighting designs of W.A.S. Benson

Tessa Wild, National Trust
A ‘lost’ Pre-Raphaelite wall painting: discovering Adam, Eve, Noah, Rachel and Jacob at Red House

19:30 Conference Dinner and viewing of murals in former Debating Chamber (now the Library), Oxford Union