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Current time:0:00Total duration:3:57

The Pre-Raphaelites and mid-Victorian art

Video transcript

we're looking at Malays the veil of rest from 1858 to 59 and this is really malaise last painting in this pre-raphaelite stylist I will go on to become a little bit more academic a little bit more mainstream after this we see two nuns one seated while the other digs a grave in a graveyard it's unusual just for me to see a nun in such a specific physical activity for one thing but the other nun is an opposition to that she's really at rest she's looking directly out of us with a very powerful gaze the way that she looks out at us with her hands folded looking very peaceful almost as though she has accepted death and mortality and holds a rosary and a cross in her hand communicating the idea that it's through Christ that one achieves eternal life then one transcends earthly life but even though there's that clue to transcendence and eternity here for the human soul we're still really confronted with the terrible facts of death the soil of burial and we're essentially as viewers standing within the grave it's so close to us yeah there's an interesting way in which the gravestones the graveyard itself is really bound that we're enclosed in this wall I think one of the things that I find most beautiful about this painting is the really subtle use of light that Twilight is that moment right the Sun is it's fading creating these really glorious silhouettes for the trees and also creating this very soft and very complex light on the figures yeah and it looks very real you know you can really remember seeing light that looks exactly like this this kind of golden light and the figures are backlit and light coming a little bit from the left and it almost creates halos it does that's in a funny way around their head in some ways it plays with the color and some really interesting ways you have those beautiful very subtle colors in the sky of course some cool dark greens versus sort of slightly warmer cones and in some of the trees but then the greens become so vivid in the grass but there's a kind of almost ethereal quality to the color that seems almost unnatural and we've all experienced this at Twilight's where the colors take on a kind of intensity absolutely but it's interestingly it's almost more vivid than in a bright daylight just because of the tonal contrasts I think so this is in a way a kind of modern memento mori it's not like massages Trinity where we have a skeleton reminding us of death is connected to a religious painting this is a secular image that's been transformed into a painting with a spiritual message reminding us of the passage of time that death can come at any time to any one of us in a way I wonder if it has a more secular message too not so much that we better prepare for our salvation through Christ but maybe also to enjoy and live life to its fullest while we have it so through the beauty and the visual specificity there's a kind of real connection to the physical world even though the message is very much about that transition what I find really brilliant is that here completely within the industrial world now within our scientific world mm-hmm the artist is able to react physical sense of the spiritual in a way that seems very authentic that doesn't need any of the artifice of the Renaissance of the Baroque but is able to find a kind of spirituality within the modern world