At the weekend we paid a visit to a Holman Hunt exhibition. Like a lot of white, middle-class teenage girls with slightly artistic pretensions, I went through a phrase of being “in love” with the Pre-Raphaelites, so this was something of a nostalgia trip for me. I still find them quite fascinating, in their very badness as well as their better moments, because they tell us so much about the Victorian world. Holman Hunt, we decided, was a good painter of bad art, sometimes hilariously bad art. Looking at his more lurid paintings, you feel like you’re being beaten around the head with the symbolism:
‘The Awakening Conscience’
“Don’t get it yet? I’ll put it in the title for you.”
We also saw some D.G Rossetti (what is up with his women??), and some Byrne-Jones and Millais.
I was very impressed by the work of a painter called Valette, which we happened upon in another room, a French impressionist who lived in Manchester and taught Lowry. He applied impressionist techniques to the industrial urban landscape, resulting in beautiful mysterious paintings. From the ridiculous to the sublime indeed.
Then there was a bit of Augustus and Gwen John (love Gwen John), Francis Bacon (brrrr), David Hockney (yay!), Mogliadani (Hmm), Barbara Hepworth (yay), Lucian Freud (Hmm).