Monday, 5 July 2010

Those Waterhouse Sketches

Rather a step away from this blog's usual fare of elves and steampunk (which seems to suggest the only logical left is the dubious realm of elfpunk, but I digress). These series of sketches were first started beck when I was wandering around the City of Dreaming Spires and was encountering the thousand and one references to their denizen, William Morris. His wife used to baffle neighbours by swanning about their home in long, flowing pseudo-medieval dresses, casting aside their fashions of complex and constricting corsetry, a thought that still makes me smile. It's probably because in some small, but very pretentious way, I like to think I'm continuing their work.

Morris was rather ridiculously prolific and I strongly suspect he just didn't sleep. He said once "If a chap cannot compose an epic poem while he is weaving tapestry, he had better shut up."

It's quite a step to start at Morris and end up sketching dresses from Waterhouse, but the former did rather famously write on the back of a canvas to his wife I love you but I cannot paint you. 

There didn't seem much point to try and draw dresses that were little more than indecently draped fabric - see Hylas and the Nymphs and Lamia (by the pond) - attractive as they are in paintings. I've mostly just dabbled with ideas, trying to replicate the shapes and shades. Whilst mimicry is fine flattery, but I can't help but feel a little sheepish since I'm not sure my art could even slightly compare.

The dress above is from Waterhouse's Miranda, from Shakespeare's Tempest. The dress to the right is from A Tale from the Decameron, though I confess to have been rather lazy with the gold detailing.

I'm not really convinced that Pre-Raphaelite dresses hang right on the distended fashion figures, but whilst I've been vowing to start using more proportional figures for quite a while now and haven't managed to kick the habit.

What do you think? Would you be interested in being the proud owner of one such dress?

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