Life And Art: Astarte Syriaca With Onlooker

Onlooker with Astarte Syriaca by Rossetti
The onlooker seemed a modern version of Venus in the picture

Venus gazes out of the picture, wearing the draped fabric and heavy curls we associate with the Pre-Raphaelite style. Rossetti, her painter, has chosen a pose that reminds us of Botticelli’s famous image of Venus on the shell. The painting’s title associates the Roman goddess with the older Astarte.

In the background, winged spirits carry torches, and the evening star, Venus, is shown between the setting sun and rising moon.

Watching in turn, I was struck by the synergy between the figure in the painting and the onlooker who seemed to be communing with her. Continue reading “Life And Art: Astarte Syriaca With Onlooker”

J. W. Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Nymphs: A Modern Debate

The Manchester Art Gallery recently removed what is probably their best-loved painting ‘to prompt conversation’. The story of Hylas and the Nymphs dates back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans and has come down to us in a variety of tellings which means the story can be interpreted more than one way. I like J.W. Waterhouse’s painting of the subject and was sorry to learn it had been taken from view.

Controversy was intensified by this Guardian interview with the curator Claire Gannaway which included the quote:

“We think it probably will return, yes, but hopefully contextualised quite differently. It is not just about that one painting, it is the whole context of the gallery.”

By the time my sweetheart and I called in to the gallery earlier this week, the picture had been replaced, now above a sea of post-it notes.

People looking at a Pre-Raphaelite painting with post-it messages

Continue reading “J. W. Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Nymphs: A Modern Debate”