Recovering Walter Howell Deverell: Image, Identity and Portraiture
Keywords:Pre-Raphaelite art, Victorian art, Walter Howell Deverell, "The Pet Parrot"
AbstractFrom the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848, this group of young British artists ignited new possibilities in all genres of art, not least portraiture. The formal portrait mutated into a more direct vision of a real person, while subject paintings gained new meanings as artists cast family and friends in new roles, bringing into question the wider issue of identity. One work that exemplifies this aspect of Pre-Raphaelite art is Walter Howell Deverell's The Pet Parrot (1853) in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. Due to his early death and lack of a full career, Deverell (1827-54), has not been fully integrated into accounts of Pre-Raphaelitism. This articles seeks to begin the reinstatement of this artist within the discussion of the art of the period. I will consider his painting The Pet Parrot with emphasis on the identity of the artist, the identity of the sitter and the place of this work in the historiography of Pre-Raphaelitism.
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