The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore

By Derek Patmore | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE The Pre-Raphaelites

TO-DAY, the world is apt to forget the part that Coventry Patmore played in helping the Pre-Raphaelite Brethren in their fight for recognition. Even William Gaunt in his recent The Pre-Raphaelite Tragedy* makes little mention of it. Yet Patmore had always been interested in the Arts. He had studied painting as a young boy, and all through his life took an intelligent interest in the paintings of his contemporaries. I remember visiting Lymington as a boy and seeing his picture collection before it was sold by his widow. It was the collection of a man of taste, remarkable in a period when taste was affected by Victorian ideals, and it contained two fine Constables, wellchosen examples of the Pre-Raphaelites, and many beautiful eighteenth-century miniatures. So it is not surprising that it was Patmore who persuaded Ruskin to write his famous letter to The Times in 1851 defending the whole Pre-Raphaelite Movement.

Modern art critics now see the whole Pre-Raphaelite Movement in its true perspective. We are not shocked by these sadeyed ladies with their flowing Titian-red hair, these brooding saints upholding white lilies of chastity, and these gaily-coloured groups of figures, inspired by Boccaccio and Dante, that now look down at us a little mournfully from the walls of the Tate Gallery and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Rather, we are impressed by the ideals that possessed these young Victorian painters and we can appreciate what Mr. Gaunt has so aptly called 'the Pre-Raphaelite Tragedy'. But, like all new movements, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was attacked and ridiculed when it was first formed, and Coventry Patmore was one of its first champions.

Turning over the pages of William Michael Rossetti Pre-

____________________
*
The Pre-Raphaelite Tragedy by William Gaunt. (Cape.)

-67-

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The Life and Times of Coventry Patmore
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Chapter One - the Return of a Victorian 1
  • Chapter Two - the Beginning 7
  • Chapter Three - Peter George Patmore and William Hazlitt 18
  • Chapter Four - the Duel 28
  • Chapter Five - Boyhood of Coventry Patmore 32
  • Chapter Six - First Poems 42
  • Chapter Seven - Disaster 51
  • Chapter Eight the Married Lover 58
  • Chapter Nine the Pre-Raphaelites 67
  • Chapter Ten the Angel in the House 77
  • Chapter Eleven Tennyson--The Friend 89
  • Chapter Twelve Departure 100
  • Chapter Thirteen Tired Memory 107
  • Chapter Fourteen Journey to Rome 121
  • Chapter Fifteen Second Marriage 132
  • Chapter Sixteen the Squire 140
  • Chapter Seventeen the Unknown Eros 154
  • Chapter Eighteen the Bride of Heaven 164
  • Chapter Nineteen Third Marriage 177
  • Chapter Twenty the Meeting of Two Poets 188
  • Chapter Twenty-One Lymington 203
  • Chapter Twenty-Two Alice Meynell 217
  • Chapter Twenty-Three London Life 226
  • Chapter Twenty-Four the End of the Journey 237
  • Bibliography 243
  • Index 245
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