If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:4:26

The Pre-Raphaelites and mid-Victorian art

Video transcript

so we're looking at William dices peg valve a Kent a recollection of October 5th 1858 it must be a very specific date there's actually even a comet in the sky in the center which probably was a specific event visible on a particular date in 1858 that notion of the particular of the specific seems critical throughout the whole canvas he's painting the cliffs there so carefully and specifically and really everything in the painting from the objects in the foreground through the stone in the background is painted very carefully obviously William Dyce has been influenced by the pre-raphaelite movement but there is a kind of specificity in a kind of intricate detail that speaks to it although the colors are much more subdued and the subject is a more standard image of the Seacoast of the resort right yeah although we don't see a kind of modern life scene of vacationing on the resort in a simple way we have I think much more mysterious and disconcerting image of figures who seem strangely isolated from one another across the foreground a child who looks out and two women who are separately engaged in collecting seashells these are all I think members of the artist family and then a woman on the right who heads in yet another direction with some figures who are also kind of isolated strewn across the background and it's obviously you know late in the day it's low tide but the figures are very small in relationship to the landscape and there's a clear sense I think of human being smallness in relationship to nature are aw and wonder at nature I think that makes sense especially with a comment right and those grand cliffs and the distance of the Vista and in a way the artist is also using color I mean even though the women and boy are dressed in relatively subdued colors those are still among the brightest colors in the canvas and they do stand out as something different and apart not only from each other but from the landscape the landscape they exist really apart from them and a kind of timelessness he seems to be interested in details that seem almost scientific a strata of the cliffs seemed to be particularly carefully rendered as if he had been studying geology yeah and I think there is some sense that dice was interested in geology and just the enormous interest at this time in nature and science and amateur science and I think about the women collecting seashells right they're being collected for their beauty or but also as scientific specimens there's a sense of timelessness there's also a sense of the measuring of time by the strata on the cliffs by the Sun going down you know there's a sense of the passage of time I mean this almost reads to me as a memento mori in a way maybe reminder of death is too strong I feel like I have been on holiday with my family in places just like this doing similar activities and so it becomes very poignant I think about dice himself the artist on this day with his child with his family in this place that removes one from one's everyday life and puts one in touch with something that's more mysterious whether that mystery is in in science and nature or whether the mystery is in God I think that's exactly right because we have the sense of the specific day the specific moment but we also have a sense of the eternal here of the way in which this scene is encapsulated within as much grander scene of the solar system of the universe and so our lives here in the year 2010 are in some ways not so different from William dices in 1858 we still go on holiday we go to places like this we live in a modern industrial in world that we escape from to places like this that take us someplace else