Pre-Raphaelites in The City: Music

Dinah Roe

Reviving ‘Patience’: An Interview with CESP Director Leon Berger Rufty-tufty Dragoons vs High-falutin’ Aesthetes

Walthamstow’s own Chapel End Savoy Players could not have chosen a better time to revive Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience. The public appetite for the 2012 Tate Exhibition Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde (now heading to Moscow via Washington DC), proves that modern audiences are not only receptive, but downright enthusiastic about exploring Pre-Raphaelitism and its legacy.

Sending up the poseurs who tried unsuccessfully to imitate the fashionable excesses of the ‘greenery-yallery, Grosvenor Gallery’ crowd, Patience satirises the developing aestheticism of the late 1870s and early 1880s. This ‘ultra-poetical, super-aesthetical’ craze had its origins in what Robert Buchanan labelled Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s ‘Fleshly School’ of poetry, and in what was perceived as an unhealthy Pre-Raphaelite predilection for morbid, sensual and pseudo-medieval themes and motifs, or, as Patience puts it, ‘uttering platitudes in stained-glass attitudes’.

Read More

Florence + The Machine + The Pre-Raphaelites

The media enjoys describing Florence Welch of ‘Florence + The Machine’ as ‘Pre-Raphaelite’, probably because of her red hair, pale skin and tendency to brandish odd props. But for the release of her second album, Ceremonials, she told Rolling Stone that she was changing her image, seeking ‘a new type of romanticism … As opposed to the Pre-Raphaelite look of the last record.’

Read More

Dante Gabriel Rossetti: The Man Who Sold the World? David Bowie credits Rossetti with inspiring drag-queen cult

I was surprised to discover a reference to Gabriel Rossetti in a 1976 issue of Playboy Magazine (which I was only reading for the articles). When interviewer Cameron Crowe asked David Bowie about the inspiration for the eye-catching English cover art for The Man Who Sold the World, David Bowie replied: ‘Funnily enough, and you’ll never believe me, it was a parody of Gabriel Rossetti. Slightly askew, obviously. So when they told me that a drag-queen cult was forming behind me, I said, “Fine, don’t try to explain it; nobody is going to bother to try to understand it.”’

Click here to read the full article. (This is only a link to Cameron Crowe’s website, not Playboy Magazine. To which I would never provide a link in a million years! Because ‘yuck’, basically).

Read More

Pre-Raphaelites in the City

Subscribe to the blog

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.