PRE-RAPHAELITISM, SCIENCE, AND THE ARTS IN THE GERM

John Holmes
2015 Victorian Literature and Culture  
In her landmark study,The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites, Elizabeth Prettejohn identifies "the burgeoning Victorian interest in the sciences" as one of Pre-Raphaelite art's "most important contemporary contexts" (251). Many critics have seen the at times remorseless detail of early Pre-Raphaelite painting and poetry as analogous to science. As Tim Barringer puts it, "The attention which hard-edged Pre-Raphaelite naturalism of the 1850s paid to observing the individual object encapsulates
more » ... psulates [science's] questioning, empirical spirit" (16). A major exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite landscape painting in London, Berlin, and Madrid in 2004 to 2005 paid close attention to geology, meteorology, and natural history (Staley et al.). There have been a growing number of studies of specific aspects of the relationship between Pre-Raphaelitism and science, with individual chapters or articles published on Pre-Raphaelitism and phrenology (Grilli), physiognomy (Hartley 80–109) and ethnography (Pointon), and on specific painters, including John Everett Millais (Codell) and John Brett (Payne 104–23). Through this work, recent critics have begun to rediscover the relationship between Pre-Raphaelitism and science which Victorian critics favourable to the movement saw as fundamental to it (see also Rosenfeld). Writing in theFortnightly Reviewin 1867, Sidney Colvin remarked that "the scientific spirit, coupled with the disgust of earnest men at academic pretensions and their reaction from academic principles, constituted the very essence of præ-Raphaelitism" (470–71).
doi:10.1017/s1060150315000212 fatcat:wrlavkcdnfdw3jsw3ntflys5um