Lakshmi and the Doctrines of the Pre-Raphaelites

Dr O'Hear: Lakshmi Magon delivered an exceptional talk to History of Art Society today. Superlatives such as outstanding and exceptional are often over-used but in Lakshmi’s case they are more than justified. It was just‘jaw-droppingly’ good. And I speak as someone who taught undergraduates for four years at Oxford University.

She delivered a presentation, mostly without notes, on the Doctrines of the Pre-Raphaelites, an elite group of English artists working during the mid to late nineteenth century, the best known of whom were William Holman Hunt, John Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Morris.

Lakshmi spoke animatedly about how the Pre-Raphaelites tried, through their work, to evoke a mood of hyper-realism and intense colour, not seen since Raphael. A painting that particularly exemplifies this is Holman Hunt’s The Hireling Shepherd. They sought to reject the cold classicism of the day in favour of images which put directness and what they referred to as ‘moral truthfulness’ at their core.

Lakshmi also made a case, whilst referring to another Holman Hunt painting, The Awakening Conscience, in which a woman is seen extricating herself from an unhappy relationship, for them being proto-feminists!

It was a special occasion at which students and staff alike learned a great deal and were still full of questions when the bell went for period 6.