Pre-Raphaelites in The City: Design

Dinah Roe

Pre-Raphaelite Furniture at the Geffrye Museum The Rossetti Chair

I am pretty sure you are not looking at the right thing in this photograph. Tear your eyes away from Ruskin’s menacing stick and bell-bottomed trousers (centre). Do not be distracted by Rossetti’s poor posture or the hanky peeping untidily from his waistcoat (right). What interests us here is the delicate-looking armchair being dwarfed by the bulk of William Bell Scott (left).

The photo above was taken by William A. Downey in Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s garden on 29 June 1863. You can read more about this image on The Victorian Web. Scott must have developed a certain kinship with this chair. Here he is again, this time with one heavy leg dangerously propped on its delicate rush seat.

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The Rossetti Watch, Part II: Geoffrey Munn Needs Your Help!

Readers, this is your chance to help make Pre-Raphaelite history!

As a long-standing fan of the Antiques Roadshow, I am thrilled to inform you that Geoffrey Munn has contacted me about his ongoing search for the beautiful watch that Dante Gabriel Rossetti designed as a memorial to Elizabeth Siddal.

For those of you unaccountably unfamiliar with his regular appearances on this great British television programme, jewellery expert Munn (FSA, FRSA) specialises in nineteenth-century metalwork and Fabergé, and is managing director of London jewellers, Wartski. Click HERE to see him in action at the British Museum on the Antiques Roadshow.

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Pre-Raphaelites in Birmingham

I first came to visit Birmingham to celebrate the beginning of my postgraduate studies in 1998. I walked around the city all day, backpack slung over my shoulders, revelling in the city’s startling combination of old and new. I had come up from London to see the Edward Burne-Jones exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. I remember buying a small exhibition poster and putting it up in the tiny bedroom at my halls of residence, and wondering when I would return.

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Missing: Elizabeth Siddal Memorial Watch Can You Help Find It?

The Antiques Roadshow have issued a call for help finding a very special object; a pocket watch designed by Dante Gabriel Rossetti as a memorial to his wife, Elizabeth Siddal. In you watch the segment at the end the show (at about 58.38) you can see his original design for this beautiful gold watch, as well as a photograph of the finished object. Sadly, it has gone missing, but Antiques Roadshow have determined to try to find it.

I had never heard of this watch myself, and was quite surprised to learn of it. I wonder if it is the one he is wearing in the series of Rossetti family photographs taken by Lewis Carroll. Has anyonoe else heard of it before? Do you have any guesses as to its possible whereabouts? The hunt is on!

This CLIP will be available to view for the next three days. The Rossetti watch appears in the final segment of the program.

Thanks very much to my brilliant web designer, David Knight, for alerting me to the programme!


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Pre-Raphaelite Murder at the Geffrye Museum Witness the death of the Victorian Best Parlour

Arthur Lasenby Liberty, founder of Liberty & Co. on Regent Street, was memorialised as ‘The Man Who Killed the Best Parlour’ by introducing a whole new aesthetic to his aspirational middle-class customer. Liberty was inspired by London’s Pre-Raphaelite artists, who were not only his customers, but also part of his brand identity. Tapping into the market that Morris & Co had created, he offered unique luxury goods in an age of mass-production. Eclecticism became the watchword for drawing room decoration as the middle classes tried to outdo each other is displaying their newly-acquired ‘artistic’ taste.

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Pre-Raphaelites in the City

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This blog explores the thriving Victorian cities which inspired the Pre-Raphaelites, and were shaped by them in turn. While the Pre-Raphaelites produced poetry and art praising the natural world, most were born and raised in urban environments, and their work retained a cosmopolitan sensibility. Although this blog will sometimes take excursions into the countryside, its focus will remain on city life. If you want more information on images or sources, please get in touch.