The American Pre-Raphaelites: Radical Realists

Yale Univ. Apr. 2019. 312p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780300242522. $65. FINE ARTS
The National Gallery of Art has curated an exhibition of American Pre-Raphaelite Art to celebrate the birth centennial of John Ruskin (1819–1900), influential art critic of the Victorian era. Ruskin strongly impacted the art world with his philosophy that great art should communicate an understanding and appreciation of nature. The movement began in England with the publication of Ruskin’s Modern Painters, which began as a defense of British artist J.M.W. Turner that evolved into an extended critique of landscape painting. He encouraged painters to leave the studio and draw and paint out of doors directly from nature with an eye toward realism. The exhibition detailed in this book highlights the works of American artists such as Thomas Charles Farrer, Charles Herbert Moore, and Henry Roderick Newman. Scholarly essays by renowned art historians and art curators trace the history of the movement from Britain to America, and the political influences of these artists in America. More than 90 illustrations beautifully represent the influence of Ruskin’s truth in art.
VERDICT An informative, gorgeously illustrated history of a lesser-known art movement. Best suited for libraries that have strong art history collections.

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