16 February 2012

Something Finer

The appeal of Pre-Raphaelite art, from E. P. Thompson's biography of William Morris (New York: Pantheon Books, 1955), p. 57:
"Why is it," asked Thomas Dixon, a working man from Sunderland, writing to William Michael Rossetti about The Germ, "these pictures and essays being so realistic, yet produce on the mind such a vague and dreamy sensation, approaching as it were the Mystic Land of a Bygone Age? ... There is in them the life which I long for, and which to me never seems realizable in this life." 
So it seemed to many other men and women, dissatisfied with the poverty of their lives, and finding their sense of loss reflected in these canvasses, their yearning for something finer, more "ideal". It was as if the human spirit was being driven to more and more remote regions, but was still struggling to keep alive. As Burne-Jones once declared: "The more materialistic Science becomes, the more angels shall I paint."