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What was I thinking!? I asked myself as the alarm woke me up at 8 am this morning. Why did I book myself in for something on the other side of town at mid-day! On Sunday! Bleh. The event in question was an exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite paintings at the Tate Britain. I don’t know much about the PRB movement nor had I seen any works before but I was intrigued.

I like looking at paintings not just for their own sake but also for understanding better the use of balance in composition in the hope that somewhere this reflects better in my photographic endeavors. I tend to gravitate towards pictures with bold colours, depth, intricate details or a human element. (And conflicting with many of these characteristics, I also like many of the works of the Impressionists). The Pre-Raphaelites were all about a return to details and sharpness. I honestly didn’t like the initial few paintings I saw very much. But there were some gems there for sure. My favourite, and I went back to it a couple of times during the exhibit, was called Isabella and the pot of Basil (William Holden Hunt). I fell in love with this lady whose lover’s head is in the pot of basil, watered by her tears.  Though the photo here doesn’t do justice, the detailing in this painting is exquisite. I loved her feet, they looked so life like, I had to remind myself that this is a painting and not a photograph. Look at it, she’s beautiful.

Isabella and the pot of basil

And placed just next to this painting, on the right, was Rosetti’s Lady Lililth – a complete contrast.

Lady Lilith – Dante Gabriel Rosetti

And then there was this lady – content and peaceful, very different from the other two. Il dolce far niente by Hunt again. Look at the detail, perhaps not all apparent in this photo, but it’s all there, from her eyes, to the diamonds in her ring, her shawl and jewelery, to her reflection in the mirror behind her. Great stuff. The chair on which the model had posed was also part of the exhibition, placed next to the painting.

Il dolce far niente – William Holden Hunt

I also liked some by John Everett Millais, especially Mariana – rich colours and rebellious sensuality. Then there was the obvious one – Ophelia. And A Huguenot, on St. Bartholomew’s Day.

Mariana – John Everett Millais

And there was Chatterton by Henry Wallis [for it’s view of London through the window ;)]. I also liked (though to a  much lesser degree) The Wounded Cavalier by William Shakespeare Burton, The Order of Release by Millais and The Pretty Baa Lambs by Ford Maddox Brown.

Chatterton – Henry Wallis

I really loved the depiction of the fair maiden in The Doom Fulfilled by Edward Burne-Jones. I didn’t like the other two paintings presented there as much, just this one for its beautiful depiction of a woman’s posterior.

The doom fulfilled – Edward Burne-Jones

I admit I didn’t particularly care for the Salvation section, the paintings just didn’t feel evocative enough. Though it was intriguing to see Christ depicted in Scotland or the Alhambara used as a background.

After the exhibition I left the Tate to walk along the Thames (oh sweetheart!) towards gorgeous Westminster, the grounds quiet and pretty. Turning the corner I was in tourist hell. I scurried to the bridge and noticed on Ben that it was five minutes to three. I waited for the chimes and the gongs. A million cameras looked towards it and a clicking frenzy ensued (as if you can capture the sound!! Duh!). I walked across Westminster Bridge and took a parallel road from South Bank, wishing to avoid the heaving humanity squeezed into the Southbank Centre (where’s my Christmas spirit, where!). I was starving – this was getting all very Hemingway (think A moveable feast)!

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