John Collier

England / 1850 - 1934 / wikipedia
Same as John Maler Collier.

John Maler Collier had 2 content specialties; and seldom has any artist ever had 2 that were more diverse. Born in 1850, Collier is most often classed as a Pre-Raphaelite. That pretty well covers how he painted--very typically quite slowly and with great precision. However Collier, unlike most of his brotherhood colleagues, had only 2 diametrically opposite content areas.

First, he painted rather staid, stodgy portraits of virtually every wealthy, well-known, male personage of British society of his time. He began, around 1880, quite naturally, with his wife, Marian (also a painter) as a model. This was followed by a portrait of his father-in-law, Thomas Henry Huxley, dating from 1885.

Collier's portrait of the writer, Rudyard Kipling is typical of his "bread and butter" male portraits. In fact, such portraits were pretty much typical of what most London portrait painters were doing at the time. In that sense, Collier's portrait work, while quite adept, was in no way exceptional. At the same time, interspersed with his portraits, were a few history and mythology paintings such as The Last Voyage of Henry Hudson, 1881. Such works could, in general, be considered to be well above the norm, but fall quite neatly into the usual style and content areas of the Pre-Raphaelites....

Far more than most of his Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood colleagues, we also see another side to this typical, Victorian-era, portrait artist, as exemplified in his gaudy version of the legendary Lady Godiva, painted around 1898. Though fairly demure by today's standards, by 19th-century standards, Collier's rebellious young lady is about as subtle as a bulldozer in a flowerbed. Though the subject matter was hardly new, Collier's lavishly colored handling of it no doubt raised more than a few eyebrows. Of course, the British art world was, at the time, completely dominated by male tastes....
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First Collected by

Christopher Foster


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