Most people would, I think, assume that the Pre-Raphaelite movement was largely a backwater, fascinating undoubtedly, but complete in itself. A first reaction to the blurb’s mention of a reinvention in The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones would probably be scepticism; it certainly sounds like a point being stretched for the benefit of a book.
However, prepare to be convinced, because the illustrations alone demonstrate the truth of the thesis and, while some of the most recent works in the collection owe as much to the general run of Victorian and fantasy art in general, there is nevertheless a visible thread. Perhaps it would be better to see the PRB as proto-fantasists.
The book accompanies an exhibition at Southampton Art and Russell-Cotes Galleries running between October 2019 and June 2020. If you want to see a really rather good collection in the original, this is an excellent opportunity. As we have come to expect from Sansom, the quality of the reproduction is excellent and the image sizes generous – major works mostly appear as near full-page as possible. The price, for what you get, is also quite modest, possibly because some of the costs have been defrayed by the exhibition – however it’s achieved, it’s superb value.
Inevitably, this is something of a specialised subject. There are plenty of books about the Pre-Raphaelites and not everyone who wants those will also be interested in the legacy. However, the book, which includes a thorough interpretative text, makes a very convincing argument and includes a great deal of material that isn’t often seen together.
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