The Exquisite Book Art of Phoebe Anna Traquair - FRIDAY 27 APRIL at 6:30 p.m.
In occasion of the exhibition Illuminating Poetry: Pre-Raphaelite and Beyond
The Exquisite Book Art of Phoebe Anna Traquair: a lecture by Elizabeth Cumming at the Keats-Shelley House
Friday 27 April at 6:30 p.m.
Advance booking mandatory: firstname.lastname@example.org/ 06 678 42 35
In this illustrated talk art historian and Traquair’s biographer Dr Elizabeth Cumming discusses Traquair’s exquisite manuscripts within the context of her life and work.
Phoebe Anna Traquair (1852-1936) was born and trained as a traditional artist in Dublin. She moved aged twenty-one with her husband to Edinburgh where she became a leading member of the Scottish Arts and Crafts movement. In the 1880s her art included domestic craft such as embroidery and also the remarkable mural decoration of a children’s hospital chapel. Simultaneously she started a career in book art, illuminating poetry and tooling bookcovers. In these early days she corresponded with the writer and critic John Ruskin who lent her medieval manuscripts for close study. Throughout the 1890s, and in addition to her book arts, she worked on an epic scale in decorating the interiors of two fine Edinburgh buildings and embroidering large silk panels she called The Progress of a Soul which interpreted the writing of Walter Pater. In the 1900s she took up enamelling, with pieces to be set as stunning jewellery or display items such as caskets and triptychs.
Traquair was always a literary artist. Her art has a narrative base and is a modern and personal response to a range of poetry. As well as being particularly attracted to Italian art she was inspired by a range of British romantic poets including Alfred Lord Tennyson and the Brownings but more especially visionary painter-poets such as William Blake and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Her illuminated manuscripts have long been recognised as unique in terms of imaginative imagery and application of colour. The finest of these – her interpretations of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese and Rossetti’s The House of Life – are on display here, along with her beautiful manuscript of Dante’s La Vita Nuova made for a friend, the great collector Sir Thomas Gibson Carmichael.