The Holy Grail is usually considered to be the cup from which Christ drank at the Last Supper and the one used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch his blood as he hung on the cross. This significance was introduced into the Arthurian legends. In earlier sources and in some later ones, the Grail is something very different. The term "grail" comes from the Latin "gradale", which meant a dish brought to the table during various stages. In medieval romance, the Grail was said to have been brought to Glastonbury in Britain by Joseph of Arimathea and his followers. In the time of Arthur, the quest for the Grail was the highest spiritual pursuit, and indeed, Arthurian legends on a larger scale deeply influenced literature and art in its broadest sense. In the stale atmosphere of the early-Victorian English painting, the so-called Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood proposed an original outlook and radically new objectives, sharing the ultimate purpose to give a genuine rebirth to art. They rejected Raphael's conventions, and sought inspiration in the paintings of the primitive Italian masters, a singular attitude which lays at the very origin of their name.
[...] The medieval couple: betrayal and bewitching as defining love. Dante Gabriel ROSSETTI, Arthur's Tomb: The Last Meeting of Lancelot and Guinevere. Arthur's death is also evoked in Rossetti's Lancelot and Guinevere at the Tomb of Arthur. It is maybe the artist's first Arthurian subject, drawing his inspiration from Malory's work. A great plastic sensibility emanates from this painting. The viewer's eye, in the first place, is attracted by the position of the two protagonists, leaning over the tomb. The knight's spear is mirrored by the queen's veil, and both form two of the sides of a triangle, meeting at a vertex materialized by their adjacent faces. [...]
[...] On this rather well-known painting, Lancelot the left, ridding his horse- is receiving his shield from Queen Guinevere, while the other ladies hold his helmet and sword and encourage the knights –Percival and Galahad are the main ones-, preparing for the quest of the Holy Grail. What strikes first in the picture is the verticality of it in its entirely: the folds of the ladies' dresses, the spears, the women's plaited hair, the shields, all these elements contribute to unify the scene, joining the knights and the women together. [...]
[...] Medieval romance and Arthurian legends have rocked generations of dreamers. The Pre-Raphaelites did not escape the rule. This study was intended to show up the main aspects uniting the original sources of the paintings and the works of the artists proper. There would be a lot more to say about the Pre-Raphaelites' inspiration in those famous myths. However, you may now understand better the ultimate point of our study: trying to highlight some of the recurrent themes in medieval romance, Pre-Raphaelite paintings and the Victorian society of the time heroism, beauty and honour. [...]
[...] The rich colours and patterning certainly derive from medieval illuminated manuscripts. The four queens, dressed in medieval costumes, stand out against an earthenware background. They stand here and there around odd musical instrument, vaguely resembling a piano and a harp, combining keyboard, plucked strings and bells, which occupy the centre of the composition. The four medieval women sing and play on this invented musical instrument. Between the two, on a blue emblem, the sun and the moon are represented. Those two items, which Rossetti affected particularly, symbolize the passing of time, as well as the duality between day and night, past and future, and the life and death of King Arthur duality which is reinforced by the fact the women stand in contrasting pairs, reflecting each other in a kind of mirror structure, creating a dreamlike effect. [...]
[...] In the Arthurian legends, Elaine was the Grail bearer, but also Lancelot's lover and Galahad's mother. Her beauty, as expressed in the painting, where she holds a central position, a typical of the Pre- Raphaelites canons. The dove flying above her head enhance Elaine's purity. Actually, the painting is centred on the maiden as well as on the Holy Grail. The bright, warm colours even seem to unify the cup and the young women, sharing gold and red features, giving them uniqueness and a kind of sacred quality. [...]
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