A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
First off, if you don’t feel like you have time to read 256 pages of art history then that’s fine. Next time you’re in the library just give this title a quick browse. You’ll either end up walking out with it anyway, or at the very least spending more time flipping the pages then you expected.
The first thing you’ll notice is that most of these paintings are not at all familiar. Next you’ll wonder why they’re not. After all, they are simply beautiful and John Everett Millais is not exactly an obscure name in the art world. His Ophelia and Mariana in the Moated Grange pass the postcard-spinner-rack/dorm-room-poster test of popularity. But the painter that Jason Rosenfeld presents in this monograph is much more diverse, and much more talented, than those two images suggest. On top of the Pre-Raphaelite standards, you’ll also find a bevy of wonderful landscapes, intriguing society portraits, and moving genre scenes that would never immediately bring the artist’s name to mind if you saw them out of context.
If anything you’ll wish there was more space available for full page illustrations. Though, if you take the time to start reading Jason Rosenfeld’s text, you’ll realize that this is more than just a bunch of images with academic commentary. It’s a serious but very readable career retrospective/biography. Rosenfeld writes with great passion and insight about Millais, who he clearly feels deserves a more prominent place in the world of art history. Chances are you’ll come away from this book in full agreement.
Review by Matthew