August 21, 2012

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde at Tate Britain

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Laus Veneris (1873-8), detail. Edward Burne-Jones (English, 1833-1898). Image courtesy Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, via.

Of all the paintings in the Driehaus Museum, visitors gather most often beneath the Pre-Raphaelites—in particular a painting in gorgeous jewel tones by Charlotte Wyllie, Arthur Hughes’s depiction of Sir Galahad, and others.

A new exhibition, opening September 13 at London’s Tate Britain, is bringing together work by other artists associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, including Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, and John Everett Millais. And contrary to the flowery, romantic associations we have with the movement’s style and subjects, this exhibition “will establish the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as an early example of the avant-garde: painters who self-consciously overturned orthodoxy and established a new benchmark for modern painting and design,” according to the Tate.


Chatterton (1856), detail. Henry Wallis (English, 1830–1916). Image courtesy Tate Britain


Ophelia (1851-2), detail. Sir John Everett Millais, Bt. (English, 1829–1896). Image courtesy Tate Britain. Ophelia is generally recognized as the iconic work of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

For those of us who are sticking to this side of the ocean for the run of the exhibition (between September 13 and January 13, 2013), and will, regrettably, miss it, The Observer has a preview of the works, some in context, here, including the exhibition’s title image, Rossetti’s striking Astarte Syriaca.

A behind-the-scenes look what it takes to bring together such an exhibition, a fresh, well-written piece also from The Observer, can be found here.

And finally, for your more nuts-and-bolts-type of information about the exhibition, see Tate Britain’s website.

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