The painter is Sir Francis Bernard Dicksee (1853-1928) and the title of the work is The Two Crowns
(1900). While Dicksee wasn't officially a member of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, he was somewhat associated with that particular movement and his paintings are generally thought to be representative of their works-- lush, romantic, jewel-toned in hue and usually depicting the most ideal of medieval themes. Waterhouse (the Lady of Shalott
mentions, La Belle Dame sans Merci
; it was Amy C. who had a giclee in her house) and Leighton (the Accolade
) are of the same school. Dicksee also painted one of the other famous depictions of La Belle Dame sans Merci
, which a lot of people are also familiar with.
In the Two Crowns
, the composition is striking in it's depiction of two crowns-- one earthly one of jewels and gold, the other of thorns-- without seeming too contrived and more like "the perfect visual moment." The painting is impressive in that it manages to convey both the energy of the celebration of the mortal king's passing in full regalia, along with his expression as he looks with proper deference and respect upon the King of Heaven. The composition, energy, and tonal contrast between the lush color of the mortal world and the somber neutral and dark tones of the Crucifix is striking and won Dicksee the honor of "Most popular picture" at a Royal Academy exhibition. (In a discussion yesterday with shieldhaven
, it was noted: "When looking at the Two Crowns
, the crucifix is so muted in its colors that I didn't notice it until you mentioned it. You kind of have to drag your eye over there to notice it. I can't help but think that there's a message there
, too." My reply: "...one thing I especially love about The Two Crowns
is exactly that-- you don't really NOTICE the crucifix until you really look at the painting for a while. Once you know it's there, then the meaning of the image changes subtly-- initially it's just a pretty painting of a king and his course, with beautiful women throwing flowers in his path. Once you notice the crucifix, the meaning shifts, and there's a lot more depth to the image and you understand the somber expression on the king's face."
Despite their general depiction of medieval/classical themes, the Pre-Raphaelites were Victorian. They are called Pre-Raphaelites because quite literally they believed that everything that came after Rafael was utter crap. Pre-Raphaelites believed in portraying the ideal of humanity, and they felt strongly that the Chivalric Code and the romanticism of old was It. There’s more to their movement and some historians credit them with being the first Avant Garde
movement, but for the most part the thing that most people come away with was the jewel-toned beauty of classical subjects that reflect a proposed golden age of humanity.