Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sir Joseph Noel Paton - The Bluidie Tryst

Sir Joseph Noel Paton (he was knighted in 1866) was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, in 1821. Encouraged from an early age to draw and paint, he entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1843; there he met John Everett Millais and their friendship lasted throughout their lives. Paton was never part of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood because he returned to Scotland and left Millais and his circle of Pre-Raphaelite painters, but not before he studied the basic elements of their craftsmanship and thoroughly absorbed many of their attitudes towards art. Christopher Wood notes that Paton's landscapes are full of Pre-Raphaelite detail (The Pre-Raphaelites, 90) and suggests that he was, although only on the fringes of the Brotherhood, their most notable follower in Scotland. Two paintings in particular--The Bluidie Tryst (1855) and Hesperus (1857)--demonstrate that in the 1850's he was "fully sympathetic" with the Brotherhood and that both pictures are "highly romantic in theme" and "show that Paton had completely mastered Pre-Raphaelite techniques" (77).

Paton's later paintings, dealing often with religious themes, made him even more famous in his own lifetime, but they are less familiar to us today and less admired. He is known now primarily through his two paintings in the fairy genre that hang in Edinburgh's National Gallery of Scotland

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