The influence of the Pre-Raphaelite paintings on fashion

Flaming June, Frederick Lord Leighton

I have been revisiting 19th century British paintings since I read about Museo Thyssen’s latest exhibition, Alma-Tadema and Victorian Painting. The collection examines the chronological period from 1860 with the dissolution of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood to the World War I and includes pieces by Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Frederick Leighton, Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Albert J. Moore and John William Waterhouse. It will be open to the public until October 5th.

The Pre-Raphaelite movement was born in 1848 when seven artists (William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens and Thomas Woolner) based in London reunited to create a secret society that would offer its on view on painting as opposed to the contemporary academic standards. As Jennifer Meagher from the MET Museum points out, “the works of the Pre-Raphaelites met with critical opposition to their pietism, archaizing compositions, intensely sharp focus—which, with an absence of shadows, flattened the depicted forms—and the stark coloration they achieved by painting on a wet white ground”. They were inspired by the uncomplicateed depiction of nature present in pre-Renassaince Italian painting.

The group left place for the birth of the Aestethic Movement, inspired by the Greco-Roman classical culture and the stories of King Arthur. Some of the Pre-Raphaelite artists evolved towards this path too, such as Dante Gabriel Rosetti. Their values shifted to the portrayal of beauty for its own sake. This is the period showcased in the Thyssen exhibition: “All these artists shared a celebration of female beauty, depicting it according to classical canons. Women became the preeminent figures in these paintings. Depicted as contemplative, amorous, day‐dreaming, bountiful, lascivious or wicked, they are transformed into heroines of antiquity or the Middle Ages. This cult of the woman moved towards the dreamlike nature and magic of the Symbolist movement that was currently emerging in Europe. Natural settings or grandiose palaces became the backdrops for scenes that largely evoke imaginary settings”, explains Thyssen Museum.

Their influence in fashion is remarkable. Valentino chose the Pre-Raphaelite theme as one of their main inspirations for the latest Haute Couture show presented this week. Oscar de la Renta has used Pre-Raphaelite references several times, and Alexander McQueen used to introduce subtle touches of this meaningful period. There is no season in which a hairstylist doesn’t bring the 19th beauty back with a cascade of red hair. There are endless editorials featuring redhead models surrounded by nature, with languid poses and semi-absent attitude. Karen Elson, Lily Cole, Christina Hendricks, young Kate Winslet, Florence Welch and Jessica Chastain are today’s Pre-Raphaelite reincarnates.

Ophelia, John Everett Millais

Ophelia, John William Waterhouse

Lady Godiva, John Collier

20130626191403!John_William_Waterhouse_The_Lady_of_ShalottThe Lady of Shallott, John William Waterhouse

Psyche opening the golden box, John William Waterhouse

The soul of the rose, John William Waterhouse

Art Nouveau Pre-Raphaelite 2Art Nouveau Pre-Raphaelite 1
Graphics by Bob Sparks

Influence in fashion and pop culture
Jessica Chastain in Vogue US by Annie Leibovitz. Recreation of Leighton’s painting. You can see the full editorial here.

Florence Welch

Keira Knightley in Atonement

Kate Winslet

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Karen Elson

Lily Cole by Miles Aldridge

Karen Elson

Oscar de la Renta

Lily Coletumblr_le3rfqv9mw1qa2nzs VogueOnDesignersBooks16_V_12sept12_TimWalker_L_b_1440x960
Tim Walker

Valentino Haute Couture F/W 2014 – © InDigital/

Selection of works in Alma-Tadema and Victorian Painting at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza Madrid
Waterhouse_bolaTadema_miradaTadema_rosas Wontner_Valeria

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Change your perception – The Overview Effect

Bourtange, Vlagtwedde, Netherlands

Daily Overview features a satellite photo everyday that shows us a view of our planet that we can’t appreciate from our perspective. The project is inspired by The Overview Effect, which they nicely explain: “This term refers to the sensation astronauts have when given the opportunity to look down and view the Earth as a whole. They have the chance to appreciate our home in its entirety, to reflect on its beauty and its fragility all at once. That’s the cognitive shift that we hope to inspire (…) Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment”.

The beauty of the images is overwhelming. They look surreal and spectacular at the same time. From the green fields to the urbanized spaces and the top of the buildings, including the intricate highways. A really inspiring project.

PD: Don’t you think they could make great fabric patterns?

Agricultural Development, Loxahatchee, Florida, USA

daily-overview18Aluminum plant in Darrow, Louisiana

Border of São Domingos and São Desidério, Brazil

Jewish Museum in Berlin, Germany

Atlanta, USA

Tulip fields in Lisse, Netherlands

Palmanova, Italy

Bronby Garden City, Copenhagen, Denmark

Almeria, Spain

Huelva, Spain

Agricultural development, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Residential development, Killeen, Texas, USA

Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, Amundsen Sea, Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica

Venice, Italy

Froster Soak City, Toronto, Canada

Our Lady of Almudena Cemetery, Madrid, Spain

Challenge, CA  95925 United States
New Bullards Bar Reservoir, Yuba County, California
Brock Reservoir, Gordons Well, California, USA

Green Valley Pecan Company, Sahuarita, Arizona, USA

Calle de la Reina de África 20 28018 Madrid
Puente de Vallecas, Madrid, Spain

Port of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA

Lebrija 1 Solar Power Plant, Lebrija, Sevilla, Spain

Residential development, Naples, Florida, USA

Hutt Lagoon, Western Australia, Australia

Images from Daily Overview

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