Sad Jesus is sad at Tate Britain’s Pre-Raphaelite exhibition
Tate Britain’s Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde exhibition piqued my curiosity enough that I willingly spent two hours in its crowded rooms, being gradually nudged around the exhibits by a tide of people.
I remember being most interested in the work of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as a teenager when its vibrant colours and its heartfelt intensity chimed the best with my own overwrought emotions. As my own inner world achieved more of an even keel and I created buffers between myself and the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune the PRB seemed to lose a lot of their appeal. As if, because my own sensory experience was no longer turned up to eleven, the PRB’s artwork not only ceased to resonate, but was also tinged with the embarrassment of earnestness.
The best example of this embarrassing earnestness was The Man of Sorrows – a painting by William Dyce from 1860.
According to the short text on the wall, Dyce has relocated Jesus’ forty days and nights in the wilderness from the Judaean Desert to a rocky section of Scotland to increase the relevance of Jesus’ struggles to those of contemporary Scots.
To me it’s as if Dyce is actively courting a Sad Jesus tumblr to rival Sad Keanu. The fact that Sad Jesus is being sad in Scotland just feels like Dyce had already Photoshopped the first image for us (and possibly to annoy the Scottish tourist board).
I suspect you can guess how I have spent the rest of my evening.