In the final concluding chapter, Landow moves on to the other member of the Pre-Raphaelite circle. He commences by asserting that James Collinson seems to have been the first to introduce typology although I am not entirely sure that this doesn’t undo an earlier assertion that Hunt was first to introduce pre-figurative symbolism via Ruskin).

James Collinson ‘The Child Jesus’, 1850
Collinson, The Child Jesus (1850, Tate)

Landow goes on to analyse Collinson’s poem ‘The Child Jesus. A Record Typical of the Five Sorrowful Mysteries’ which imagines events from Christ’s childhood which prefigure the Passion and Crucifixion. The title suggests the basic premise of the poem. E.g. ‘The Agony in the Garden’ is described by Landow as using ‘Wordsworthian lines to relate how the child Jesus suffered when a hawk killed a pet dove’s only fledgling.’[1]

Collinson, himself a Catholic, is described by Landow as being ‘at least partial inspiration for both Hunt and Millais’; before he compares the typology of Millais’ Christ in the House of his Parents with that of Collinson’s poem.[2] The tabernacle is seen as a High Church allusion to the Reserved Sacrament. It is odd that Collinson chooses to embrace what is clearly High Church ideologies, language, and symbols; perhaps a sign of how close High Church Anglicanism was to Catholicism. A wonderful section on the poem follows, with parallels to Hunt’s The Shadow of Death made. ‘Collinson’s poem asserts that Christ’s very descent into human flesh is both a source and a type of his later sacrifice’.[3]

Landow discusses the use of the veil as a literary device, and by that I mean when he unveils / reveals. Traces of Browning and Tennyson can be found, e.g. ‘The Coming of Arthur’.[4] Poetic problems analogous to those faced by Hunt, and I dare say also by Stanhope. Landow clearly admires Collinson’s ‘word-painting’ and elucidates the parallels between his writing style and the art of the early brotherhood more generally.

File:Charles Allston Collins - Berengaria's Alarm for the Safety of her Husband, Richard Coeur de Lion.JPG
Collins, Berengaria’s Alarm for the Safety of her Husband, Richard Coeur de Lion (1850, Manchester Art Gallery)

Moving away from the poem, Landow discusses Collins’, Berengaria’s Alarm for the Safety of her Husband, Richard Coeur de Lion (1850, Manchester Art Gallery). He makes a fascinating analysis of the role of the ‘secular ‘saviour’.’[5] In my own research I suggest the Angel becomes a secular saviour. Berengaria is embedded with references to Joseph and the technicolour dream coat (see the tapestry, and the girdle the pedlar proffers).

’Collins enforces his point literally juxtaposing the text from Genesis with one from the Gospel of John – on the floor near the seated lady-in-waiting is a manuscript scroll bearing the words “And he knew it and sayde it is my sonne hys coate an evil beaste hath devoured hym Joseph is without doubte rent in pieces”; this lies upon a Latin manuscript of the Gospel of St. John which is open to the first page, while beneath it appears the blue cover of a copy of the Gospels bearing the image of Christ and the emblems of the four Evangelists.’[6]

It is a fascinating and insightful reading, to include typology, the concept of saviour / hero, with gospel truths, and Pre-Raphaelite art, and Anglicanism. Landow’s commentary is thought provoking. Moving on to discuss Rossetti Landow quotes Ruskin’s line ‘The Old & New Testaments were only the greatest poems he [Rossetti] knew’. One important statement he makes during this Chapter is that Rossetti’s eloquent defence of his watercolour (and accompanying poem) The Passover in the Holy Family (1856, Tate) is evidence of his understanding and practicing typology.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti ‘The Passover in the Holy Family’, 1856
Rossetti, The Passover in the Holy Family (1856, Tate)

Ruskin’s quote on Hunt is also included: The New Testament…became not merely a Reality, not merely the greatest of Realities, but the only Reality’.[7] There do seem to be different motivations and utilisations of typology between Hunt and Rossetti. Is it possible Rossetti found aesthetic and poetic depth through his employment of typological symbolism? Landow suggest it was the interconnection of ‘human times and events’ which was important for Rossetti’s concern with ‘loss’; whilst Hunt was drawn to the truth embedded within typology (both the sign and the signifier being truth). [8] Rossetti’s line below demonstrates this different utilisation:

Here meet together the prefiguring day

And day prefigured [9]

Toward the end of the poem Landow discusses how reference to the blood of Christ which, in future years, will triumph over death, mirrors the blood of the paschal lamb which kept the Angel of Death from the houses of the enslaved Israelites.

What shadow of Death the Boy’s fair brow subdues
Who holds that blood wherewith the porch is stained
By Zachary the priest?

What Landow does not go on to explore is the role of the Angel or the Shadow of the Angel and how references to Angels / Shadows are often used as a mechanism of revelation / unveiling. After all, the painting is set within ‘various temporal contexts’. Working in opposition to Lessing’s ideas of paintings being limited to a single moment in time, Rossetti negotiates time by referencing and displaying more than one time.

What is fascinating is that Landow mentions the ‘The Holy Family’ sonnet which Rossetti wrote in response to a painting then thought, and now thought again, to be by Michelangelo (‘Manchester Master’, The Madonna and Child with St John and Angels or The Virgin and Child (Circa 1497, National Gallery)). Prophecy and time are intrinsic to this poem which concludes;

For these things

The angels have desired to look into.[10]

Landow reads this as a lame conclusion, saying:

‘Mary tells the child that his “hour of knowledge” has not yet come, and for the moment only the angels (which the painting depicts) will know all… Rossetti is having poetic difficulty explaining the presence of the angels, since, like Collinson, he treats the subject of the painting as an actual occurrence rather than an iconic configuration. By treating the Virgin and Child as real dramatic personages with their own psychology, he introduces – and almost succumbs to – difficulties foreign to the original painting.’[11]

I disagree or rather I extend Landow’s thinking here, as I am certain that the angel in itself was a both a religious and an artistic response being had by Rossetti and other Pre-Raphaelites at this time. This veil, this role of intermediary, this capacity of moving between time zones is all personified within the role and cast of an Angel. Angels who dwell behind the Holy of Holies, called upon by God to mediate, to guide, and to reveal. Whilst the typological readings of Landow are invaluable for researchers like myself, they are only part of the complex meaning behind so many Pre-Raphaelite works, as I am quite certain he would agree. It is curious that Landow makes no real commentary on Rossetti’s pursuit of the angelic body, particularly when the sestet of the references Satan.

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/01/MICHELANGELO_-_Manchester_Madonna_adjusted.JPG
Manchester Master, The Madonna and Child with St John and Angels or The Virgin and Child (Circa 1497, National Gallery)

‘For An Annunciation, Early German’ (1847) or ‘Returning to Brussels’ doesn’t specifically reference Angels, doing so via reference to the Dove of the Holy Spirit instead. Landow even struggles to make a strong reading of typology but he acknowledges the limitations of the reading and concludes ‘the appearance of Christ changes all men and all things’.[12] The main reason for Landow introducing these two poems is to discuss the image, The Girlhood of Mary Virgin in order that we may read the painting as an affirmation of God’s eternal plan to redeem man. Divine schemes are apparent in the accompanying sonnets (of which there are two). Throughout the first sonnet there is a build towards the appearance of the angel, the moment of the annunciation (which parallels Rossetti’s on production and exhibiting of the second painting Ecce Ancilla Domini!) Taking the much assumed stance that Rossetti was a non-believer, Landow reads these images as embodying ‘a conception of history in which human time is always surrounded by the sacred and is given meaning by it).[13] The term ‘pre-Annunciation’ is a most valuable one for reading The Girlhood of Mary, whilst Ecce Ancilla Domini! is a fascinating representation of human meeting the divine (Landow points out there are differences between the image and the poem, e.g. Mary’s levels of fear). Man and man’s redemption are further examined in Landow’s treatment of The Llandaff altarpiece (a work which exacerbated Rossetti for many years).

Landow refers to an insight by Professor Horton Davies who reads the Shepherd’s crook as a symbol of Bishop’s authority. I would add to this that symbolism is not just appropriate for a cathedral, but for Christianity at a time when much instability was at foot. Prophecy and vision are an integral part of both Hunts and Rossetti’s typological symbolism (and in my mind we should also include ‘unveiling’ as part of the fiery particular Pre-Raphaelite construction of typology as a symbolic language). Illumination and vision recur throughout both their works. Again Landow doesn’t make this connection, but the angelic body is significant within these moments of the reveal, or the moments of recognition. Whilst it should not be understood that Rossetti maintained an aesthetic relationship with the angelic body throughout his career, it is evident that concepts of the role or use of angels were subsumed into his work. Less so in Hunt who has a precise Evangelical objective. It is interesting how Landow connects Hunt and Rossetti in this last chapter, and carefully concludes that Collins, Collinson, and Millais should be considered separately.

To conclude:

Landow’s conclusion is centred around contemporary criticism. Landow proceeds to indicate (and this should probably have been elaborated on within the main body of the book) that there was a ‘vigorous campaign’ against Ruskin being enacted by the Art Journal.[14] This criticism is reported as being directed at the typological interpretation of Tintoretto’s Annunciation. Landow uses this as a means of illuminating the complex responses to Pre-Raphaelite iconography, e.g. French critic Chesneau wrote ‘The Pre-Raphaelites involve themselves in such subtleties that one can never feel certain of their meaning’.[15] Landow’s Epilogue is enlightening, and the numerous contemporary reports tell us much of Victorian confusion over how to interpret the content these works. It is a shame more of this was not threaded throughout the text.

Landow’s final suggestion seems to be one which opens up more doors than it closes; the mystic transcendentalism which Pre-Raphaelitism is accused of is just not resolved enough, and it is too big a topic to conclude so briefly and generically. Where Landow does succeed is with his conclusion that the ambitious nature of Pre-Raphaelitism was in a decisive move towards a modern iconography via adoption of typological symbolism. Landow’s parting line is that we should view Pre-Raphaelite work as a ‘much broader attempt to reconcile realism and symbolism’.

[1] George Landow, William Holman Hunt and Typological Symbolism (London: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, 1979) page 141

[2] Landow, page 142

[3] Landow, page 143

[4] ‘In Memoriam’ was published the same year as Collinson’s poem, 1850.

[5] Landow, page 147

[6] Landow, page 147

[7] Landow, page 148

[8] Landow, page 149

[9] Taken from ‘The Passover in the Holy Family’, published in Rossetti’s Poems, 1870.

[10] From Rossetti’s poem The Holy Family.

[11] Landow, page 153

[12] Landow, page 154

[13] Landow, page 155

It is difficult to resolve Rossetti’s ‘faith’, on the one hand he declared his Christianity, and attempted to convert to Christianity, whilst on the other he firmly told friends that he was not that way inclined. At best we can say Rossetti’s relationship with religion was complex, and contradictory. Landow suggests Rossetti’s religious upbringing left him with a sincere yearning for the order and coherence of belief.

[14] Landow, page 165

[15] Landow, page 164

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