Pre-Raphelite art was based on a desire to challege the conventions that the great artists of the early seventeenth century had set. When Royal Academy schools taught that figures were to be arranged in a pyramidal shape with one major source of light mirrored by a minor light source, with an emphasis on shading, the PreRaphelites would create brightly colored works of art with both figures and light evenly distributed. The PRB also emphasized the realistic portrayal of all objects, regardless of seeming importance, including those traditionally blurred or shaded. Arthur Hughes was considered a "hard-edge Pre-Raphelite associate", yet his painting April Love seems to embody most of the qualities embraced by conventional art. While there is only one figure, thus avoiding a pyramidal grouping, she stands in a dark shelter, the background hidden in shadows. There is a major source of light coming from beyond the ivy on the left, illuminating the majority of her face, while the window behind is a minor light source. Certain details, including the folds of her skirt and the details of the ivy are blurred, especially toward the bottom right corner and other surrouding shadows. Most of the painting is dark, with only the relative brightness of her blue skirt and scarf highlighted by the incoming sunshine. Despite all the conventions in his art, Hughes was counted as one of the Pre-Raphelite artists.
1. What emotions does the woman appear to be experiencing, and why?
2. What were her motives for hiding?
3. Does the curved shadow behind the woman symbolize anything, and if so, what?
4. Is there any significance to how she is dressed?
5. What made Arthur Hughes a leading, if atypical, Pre-Raphelite artist?
Last modified 14 September 2004