When offered a book about a 'lost' Pre-Raphaelite artist called Robert Bateman, my arrogant-cow attitude immediately said 'Well, I've heard of him, how lost can he be?' Indeed, I've used his best known paintings here on the blog before, especially this one:
|The Dead Knight|
Robert Bateman was an artist in the second wave of Pre-Raphaelitism. He was a member of the Dudley School, a grouping of artists that included Edward Burne-Jones and Simeon Solomon and he moved to being a part of the Grosvenor Gallery set. His artistic output appeared spasmodic and he also dabbled in architecture, sculpture and botany. He came from reasonable amounts of money, mixed with people with reasonable amounts of money and many of the names in the story will be familiar to you. He married later in life to an older widow and they died within a month of each other in the 1920s. These are the facts and it's easy to see why Bateman may have been overlooked in favour of other artists whose lives had a bit more public spice, shall we say. Mind you, isn't that so utterly true of life, that those who clumsily and publicly mishandle life's eventuality are given far more notice and public worth than those who just get on with things with rather more dignity. The early mention of Burne-Jones and Solomon in the book makes complete sense as you progress through Bateman's life and secrets.
Bateman's artistic reputation was pretty much lost between the wars. He doesn't appear in my early 20th century Pre-Raphaelite books, although some really random people are present in the Percy Bate one from 1910. I suppose I'm lucky enough to have started my Pre-Raphaelite research (and life) after the 1960s when more of the artists were rediscovered and written about. Bateman himself enjoyed a brief rediscovery in 1966, and his paintings of a dead knight and some mandrake pluckers started appearing in books and exhibitions in the 1990s. But you wouldn't think there would be enough to hold your interest for over 300 pages...
|Three Women Plucking a Mandrake|
|Heloise and Abelard (1879)|
|Reading of Love, HE Being By (1874)|
|The Artist's Wife (1886)|