United Kingdom • 1850−1934
John Collier (eng. John Maler Collier, 27 January 1850 — 11 April 1934) was an English painter and writer, one of the famous representatives of the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

The characteristics of creativity: John Collier known as portraitist and author of genre scenes, calling them to virtue and morality. The most famous of his paintings is devoted to mythological and historical themes. The actual stories, romantic style of painting, idealized and sensual images of women made him a popular artist of the second half of XIX – early XX centuries.

Famous paintings: "Lady Godiva", "Lilith", Tannhäuser (Venus mountain), "Water nymph", "The maids of the Pharaoh".

John Collier is one of the most successful and famous artists of the pre-Raphaelite movement. This was facilitated by his entourage: a happy childhood, parenting support and personal ambitions. His work aroused the interest and understanding of his contemporaries, but no less than they attract modern viewers for its refined aesthetics and breathtaking scenes.

Family and personal life John Collier

John Collier was born into a successful wealthy family, the judge Robert Collier, who had the hereditary title of Baron Monkswell and his wife, Isabella Collier. The future artist's father, in addition to the main activities was fond of painting and was a member of the Royal society of British artists.

After four years of study at Eton College, Collier went to Germany to study German and French. He studied diplomatic business in the old school — the University of Heidelberg, but at the age of 25 years has changed his choice and began to study to be a painter at the Munich Academy of arts. He continued his art education at the London Slade School under the leadership Edward Poynterand in Paris, learning from Jean-Paul Laurent. His father did not oppose this choice. Young Collier admired works Alma-Tadema and Milland considered himself their follower. English writer and art critic V. G. Pollock wrote in the memoirs about the artist, even outwardly, he worked in the manner of Millais: when writing portraits set the canvas side by side to the model, carefully looked at the nature and pacing to accurately convey the personality depicted.

Collier was closely associated with Professor Thomas Henry Huxley, who was nicknamed "Darwin's bulldog" for what was a supporter and condemn the fashionable at the time, Darwinian theory. Collier married his daughter Marian — the artist also studied at the Slade school. She has exhibited her work at the Royal Academy and left this famous portrait of her husband. The couple had a daughter Joyce, who later also began to paint. Marian was forced to restore their health after giving birth in Paris, but weakened, she contracted pneumonia and died in 1887.

Two years later, Collier travels to Norway and commit a number of tricks to marry the sister of his late wife, Ethel, also the artist-miniaturist. In England such marriages were forbidden to conclude until 1907. Ethel and John were born a daughter Joan and a son Lawrence, who was afterwards British Ambassador in Norway from 1941-1951.

Success as the companion of creativity in the life of a Collier.

The career of John Collier — is in its kind one of the most successful and attractive of examples in art history. He was received by the audience, critics and colleagues, and quickly built his career, becoming one of the founders of the Royal Academy of arts, and later its Vice-President. Collier became a member of the Royal society of painters and the Royal society of portrait painters, where he was exposed to 165 of his works. In 1920, it has already been fully established artist, awarded the order of the British Empire.

Reproductions of portraits, historical and dramatic scenes Collier spread to different cities and countries attended the exhibitions. Pollock in 1914, dedicated to him the issue of Art Journal under the heading "Art of the Honourable John Collier" (the Art of the honourable John Collier), providing publications and fifty black-and-white and six colored his work, as well as a photo of his workshop. This attention only increased the popularity of the artist.

Writing occupies a special place in the life of a Collier. In 1882 he published the first theoretical work of the artist - "The Primer of Art" (Textbook on). Four years later, he issued another written work - "A Manual of Oil Painting" (Manual of oil painting), where the details reveals the features of pictorial art. This book can be bought even today, and it will be fascinating and useful reading not only for experts but also for Amateurs.

The themes and subjects of John Collier: from Darwin to Lilith

Portraits was the first important work Collier, thanks to them he provided himself and his family. Among his customers was the entire British elite: from politicians to scientists and writers. Collier creates rubs George V, Rudyard Kipling, Charles DarwinAlma-Tadema, famous actors and Actresses of the theatre, the rulers of India and Nepal etc. for all the importance of customers, Collier passes through the idealization, the people in the portraits are vivid and moving, in their terms, transferred a character, and the details explain to the viewer the nature of their activities. If mythological and didactic stories the author resorted to romanticizing and theatricality, his portraits are full of real life and more than realistic — it was one of the beautiful principles of the author.

Edifying, so popular in the Victorian era, reflected in the small genre scenes Collier. It "Fallen idol"- recognition that young wife cheating her elderly husband, another variant of the same theme "Recognition"where the woman is hidden in the shadows, and the image thunderstruck men, clearly emerges in the Rembrandt lighting. "The sinner"- luxuriously dressed woman, in a fit of pressed up against the confessional to whisper their sins hidden from the view of the priest: it is an image of an external repentance, and sensual theatrics.

The woman is the main character in works of Collier, and once again he proves it, giving an almost biblical name "The prodigal daughter returns" tragic household the scene of the arrival of prostitute daughters in the parental home.

Despite a love of moralizing themes, Collier rather reserved attitude to religion. The coldness in this respect was supported by Darwinian ideas of his father-in-law. The artist claimed that looking forward to when the ethics will take the place of religion and was convinced that in the world there are many things that can replace all the positive aspects of faith in God.

The drama and love of the theater made historical, mythological Collier iconic and recognizable. Following the romantic traditions, and with the true pre-Raphaelite zeal he pretended to be unearthly beautiful women that lead to their sensual beauty. His heroine is extremely feminine, but each of them has a special destiny, strength or even power. Historical characters, goddesses and heroines of ancient myths, the female characters of the novels and the old English ballads — the favorite characters of the painting of John Collier. These works are of the greatest interest and most bring it closer to the pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

The first work which is associated with the name John Collier is "Lady Godiva"1898. Young Nude woman on a horse — I don't know what more to interest the viewer. The plot and execution fall right into the target, with the image of a woman – the wife of count Leofric, to stand up for his people, remains secretive and chaste for even the most biased eyes.

"Clytemnestra"created in two variants 1882 and 1914, has caused not only astonishment, but also indignation. The reason was not just her bare Breasts, but the overall impression of strength, power, and even aggression. All this, coupled with a naked torso was unacceptable for a traditional audience. The situation was on the verge of Comedy: one of the Orthodox artists of the reformatory gave the "slap public taste", so Yes, that picture was never shown.

Redhead "Lilith"is the embodiment of exquisite carnal passion and beauty. Bypassing the biblical side, the myth of Lilith talks about her as the first wife of Adam created from his rib, and equal to him. Rebelliousness and love of freedom were not pleasing to God or to her husband, and Lilith became the outcast, the symbol of sexual desire and sin.

Collier turned to the ancient myths, Egyptian themes and historical subjects, illustrating not only the history and legends of old England, but also of Ancient Greece and Italy. In his female imagery is rare to find melancholy and pensiveness, almost all of the heroines of the artist's passionate, vivid and involving, endowed with primitive naturalness. He often uses body language, via gestures and posture conveys the state of the heroine and her feelings.

The works of John Collier are in many cities and countries. They are stored in the London portrait gallery, the Tate gallery, in Paris, in Florence, as well as in private collections around the world.

Collier died in 1934. His creative journey began, continued and ended, following the paths of classical art. Collier was committed from the beginning to the end of their ideas of harmony, strength, prudence and aesthetics. This made him a popular artist that meets the tastes of not only England but also other countries in the end XIX – first half XX centuries. His paintings have attracted the interest even when an era of modernist trends and artistic life was turned on its head. Collier is not indifferent to modern viewers that can relate his painting to a genuine classical art, which does not require compliance with today's fashion.

Author: Lyudmila Lebedeva
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