Jump to content

Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition At The Tate Gallery 2012


Recommended Posts


I am posting this here for those of you who have an interest in the Pre-Raphaelites – the exhibition starts in the autumn of 2012.

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde

12 September 2012 – 13 January 2013

About | Visiting information | Book tickets

Combining rebellion and revivalism, scientific precision and imaginative grandeur, the Pre-Raphaelites constitute Britain’s first modern art movement. This exhibition will bring together over 150 works in different media, including painting, sculpture, photography and the applied arts, revealing the Pre-Raphaelites to be advanced in their approach to every genre. Led by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) rebelled against the art establishment of the mid-nineteenth century, taking inspiration from early Renaissance painting. The exhibition will establish the PRB as an early example of the avant-garde: painters who self-consciously overturned orthodoxy and established a new benchmark for modern painting and design. It will include many famous Pre-Raphaelite works, and will also re-introduce some rarely seen masterpieces including Ford Madox Brown’s polemical Work 1852 1865 and Philip Webb and Burne-Jones’s The Prioress’s Tale wardrobe of 1858. The exhibition will show the Pre-Raphaelite environment to be widely encompassing in its reach across the fine and decorative arts, in response to a fast-changing religious and political backdrop, and in its relationship to women practitioners.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As you know Kenog I'm huge fan of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. I'll have to get myself down to London to see those rare painting. I've got plenty of time to book a cheap train ticket! Thanks for posting! :)

Hi R.

Thanks for you kind comment :wave: . I am also giving details here of the Da Vinci Exhibition on at the National Gallery for anyone who is interested, because it is the most complete display ever.


Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan

Date and time

9 November 2011 – 5 February 2012

Sainsbury Wing

‘Leonardo da Vinci: Painter at the Court of Milan’ is the most complete display of Leonardo’s rare surviving paintings ever held. This unprecedented exhibition – the first of its kind anywhere in the world – brings together sensational international loans never before seen in the UK.

Leonare artist

While numerous exhibitions have looked at Leonardo da Vinci as an inventor, scientist or draughtsman, this is the first to be dedicated to his aims and techniques as a painter. Inspired by the recently restored National Gallery painting, The Virgin of the Rocks, this exhibition focuses on Leonardo as an artist. In particular it concentrates on the work he produced as court painter to Duke Lodovico Sforza in Milan in the late 1480s and 1490s.

As a painter, Leonardo aimed to convince viewers of the reality of what they were seeing while still aspiring to create ideals of beauty – particularly in his exquisite portraits – and, in his religious works, to convey a sense of awe-inspiring mystery.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...
  • 7 months later...

Jimmy Page Interview Re Exhibition.

TATE ETC. Issue 26


Highlights include:

- Fiona MacCarthy and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page on the Pre-Raphaelites

- Merel van Tilburg on William Morris and artists’ wallpapers

- Socially engaged art at the Liverpool Biennial, by Pablo Helguera

- Martin Parr, Simon Baker and Amanda Renshaw on photobooks

- Doug Aitken at Tate Liverpool

- Jonathan Griffin on the grotesque

- Elisabeth Lebovici on Jeanloup Sieff and the meanings in fashion photography

- Isobel Harbison on painting after performance in ‘A Bigger Splash’ at Tate Modern

- Two artist projects from photographers William Klein and Daido Moriyama

- Barbara Steveni on Tony Benn and the Artist Placement Group

- A selection of writings from Ian Hamilton Finlay

- Sally Jarman and Matthew Gale on Paule Vézelay’s unrealised film script

The work of the Pre-Raphaelites has often been overshadowed by their colourful lifestyles and romantic imagery. However, the group was far more politically radical and socially engaged, and its women members more numerous and productive than previously thought. Fiona MacCarthy looks at their collective campaign against the age.

Jimmy Page has lent works to the Tate Britain exhibition. Here he explains his lifelong fascination with the Pre-Raphaelites.

On the eve of their exhibition at Tate Modern, TATE ETC. invited photographers William Klein and Daido Moriyama to publish a selection of their work in the magazine. Tate’s curator of photography introduces their images.

Since Jackson Pollock‘s “action painting” Summertime, artists have blurred the boundaries between painting and performance. Kazuo Shiraga’s mud-writhing, Hermann Nitsch’s poured blood canvases and Niki de Saint Phalle’s shooting paintings all showed how the body could become a stage, further explored by the likes of Bruce Nauman and Helena Almeida. Isobel Harbison looks at their influence on more recent artists.

“The grotesque belongs underground. It is subversive, rudely transgressing the boundaries between inside and out, above and below, elevated and profane.” Jonathan Griffin explores the notion of the grotesque through the centuries and its current re-imagination with humour and a sense of the absurd.

Artists’ wallpapers: Merel van Tilburg looks at an amazing selection of artist designs from the past 150 years—including William Morris, Maurice Denis, Andy Warhol, Sonia Delaunay, René Magritte, Charles Burchfield, Alexander Calder, Thomas Demand and Mai-Thu Perret. As well as beauty and ornament, they are often loaded with symbols and unconscious meanings, or political and social messages.

“Whenever I meet a photographer, one of the things I always ask is: which books have influenced you? You get fascinating responses.” Martin Parr talks to Tate’s Simon Baker and Phaidon’s Amanda Renshaw about photobooks.

A mobile cheese-production unit, a local bakery previously earmarked for closure, a large community garden…what exactly is “socially engaged art”? Pablo Helguera takes a look at the Liverpool Biennial.

“Joseph’s dirty fingernails; blood seeping scarlet from the boy Jesus’s palm; sheep painted from two heads purchased from a local butcher: this build-up of all too realistic detail in Millais‘ first religious painting, Christ in the House of his Parents (‘The Carpenter’s Shop’) brought predictable cries of outrage, not least from Charles Dickens, who complained in Household Words of a Christ child depicted as “a hideous wry-necked, red-haired boy in a nightgown.” –Fiona MacCarthy p33

Doug Aitken on his work The Source for Tate Liverpool “I think we live in a world that’s very much compiled of fragments—fragments of information and experiences. We process these, and each of us synthesises together to create our own view of things….There’s a kind of commonality in the creative process, and also in the sharing of ideas.” –p53

TATE ETC. – Europe’s Largest Art Magazine

Subscribe at www.tate.org.uk/tateetc/subscribe

Or call +44 (0)20 7887 8959


Link to comment
Share on other sites


Pre-Raphaelites, Tate Britain exhibition: visions that tell us who we are

Kitsch, old-hat and irrelevant? The Tate’s new blockbuster show sets out to prove that the Pre-Raphaelites’ hyper-real fantasies are anything but. Mark Hudson welcomes this timely reappraisal.


Lady Lilith by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, on show at the Tate's Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde Photo: TATE BRITAIN

By Mark Hudson

8:39AM BST 12 Sep 2012

Visit any of Britain’s big regional art galleries – in Manchester, say, or Liverpool or Birmingham – and you’ll find rooms filled with paintings from the period when these great industrial cities were at their zenith: the Victorian era.

There are tastefully eroticised mythological scenes; didactic domestic tableaux; and works of fusty Symbolism populated by pallid, big-jawed, ill-looking ladies. Faced with this psychic cornucopia from a time that still exerts an overwhelming influence on our own, I never know whether to linger in appalled fascination – or run.

And I’m far from alone in that. With its air of suffocating sententiousness, its leaden insistence on delivering a message, its camphor-scented whiff of the funereal, Victorian art is, of all eras in British art, the most alien to contemporary taste.

Always in these places there will be a few works that stand out through their sheer oddness, which in their heightened colour, mystical religiosity and hyper-real detail (the effect of which is anything but realistic) exemplify much that is difficult to contend with in Victorian art, while seeming to exist in a strange category all of their own. These are the works of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

That the principal Pre-Raphaelites – Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt – are among the most singular figures in the story of British art isn’t in doubt. Rossetti, the womanising poet-turned-painter, exerted an extraordinary influence despite his technical limitations as an artist.

Millais, the movement’s boy genius, sold out his formidable gifts for the comfortable life of a society painter; while Hunt, the biblically obsessed moralist, fell in love with his wife’s sister and created some of the most curious paintings seen in this country or anywhere else.

Coming together in 1848 when they were still in their early twenties (and Millais, the baby of the brotherhood, was only 19), these youthful revolutionaries sought to overturn academic tradition by revisiting what they saw as the purity of the art of the Early Renaissance before Raphael. Yet while their hectic personal lives have been raked over endlessly, their work remains peculiarly problematic for the British mind.

In an essay in the catalogue of Tate Britain’s vast new Pre-Raphaelite exhibition, scholar Elizabeth Prettejohn argues that far from having been ignored for most of the 20th century, only to be rediscovered in the Sixties, as conventional wisdom has it, the Pre-Raphaelites have never been out of fashion.

While it is true that each generation has rediscovered them through a major exhibition, that doesn’t quite add up to critical acceptance.

We know the work of the Pre-Raphaelites “in the blood” in a way we know little other art. The movement’s most familiar images are embedded in the British collective consciousness: Millais’s Ophelia, for example, with its densely worked, almost tapestry-like surface; Henry Wallis’s The Death of Chatterton, in which the poet is sprawled lifeless in his garret; Ford Maddox Brown’s Work, that great Victorian paean to labour.

Yet these images with their perceived sentimentality and literalness remain the subject of a peculiar embarrassment. The fact that they underwent a huge surge in popularity in the Sixties and Seventies – bought by rock stars, seen on the bedroom walls of every teenage girl who longed for crinkly, auburn Pre-Raphaelite hair of her own – did nothing to shift the critical consensus that these works were risible kitsch that could never quite be accepted into the cannon of good taste and good art.

Partly it’s the way Pre-Raphaelite paintings seems to contradict everything we currently identify as aesthetic value: favouring storytelling and moralising over a concern for form; offering a mass of mimetic detail that offends our Modernist-inspired taste for clarity and simplicity.

But, more than that, our attitude towards the Pre-Raphaelites reflects our problematic relationship with the Victorian era itself. The great-great-grandchildren of the Victorians, we’re still living in the hangover of the early 20th century’s rejection of their values.

We perceive Pre-Raphaelitism as part of a distant but brilliantly lit world in which women went out of their way to look old and dowdy and men wore thick, three-piece suits in the hottest weather, when more churches were built than in the Middle Ages, but prostitution was booming.

We admire the technological, entrepreneurial and even imperial energy of the period when Britain was at the peak of its powers, and London was the capital of the world. But emotionally this territory is foreign and remote.

Yet if Pre-Raphaelitism feels in this context like a kind of aberration in the history of art, an aesthetic movement which relates to nothing else before or since, that is a peculiarly British perception. In the view of the Tate exhibition’s American co-curator Jason Rosenfeld, it is simply wrong.

“The Pre-Raphaelites had the biggest influence on international art of any British movement before or since,” he says.

“Their works penetrated the consciousness of people throughout Europe and America. They were working at the dawn of modern society, and they took full advantage of advances in materials, transport and methods of exhibiting to get their messages across.”

That’s quite a reversal of the standard view of Pre-Raphaelitism as perhaps the prime example of how British art got it wrong, of how when France was embracing modernity through a new rational, optically based art – Impressionism – Britain was burrowing into an idealised gothic past that never existed.

“We live in a world that’s been dominated by a single story of modern art with Paris at its fulcrum,” says Rosenfeld, “in which French Realism lead to Impressionism, Cubism and the development of abstraction.

But we’re gradually realising that that isn’t the only story. If you follow the tendrils leading out of Pre-Raphaelitism you see the unfettered sensuality of Rossetti feeding into the work of Viennese artists such as Klimt and Egon Schiele.

Picasso and his circle in Barcelona revered Burne-Jones and you can see his influence in Picasso’s Blue Period paintings.

And when Delacroix, the great precursor of Impressionism, went to the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1855, what impressed him most was Hunt’s Our English Coasts, a view of sheep on a clifftop painted in really intense colour. He saw in it a kind of vitality and newness that French art hadn’t yet approached.”

Indeed, the apparently backward-looking nature of Pre-Raphaelite art is deceptive, as Rosenfeld’s British co-curator Alison Smith explains: “They were looking towards art that was then barely considered art, in search of greater truth. The art of what were then called the Italian Primitives – artists of the late-gothic and the early Renaissance – had only just been admitted into the National Gallery.

The traditions of the Royal Academy, where Hunt and Millais were students, looked towards the art of the High Renaissance and the Baroque, which the Pre-Raphaelites felt had become slick and mannered. They wanted to get away from conventional ways of seeing, to get to the truth of what they were depicting, which is a very Modernist way of looking at things.”

Part of our problem in understanding Pre-Raphaelitism lies in the way it has become conflated in the popular mind with a mass of related phenomena such as Art Nouveau, the Aesthetic Movement, and fin-de-siècle Symbolism – all of which were influenced by Pre-Raphaelitism, to the extent that just about any romantic Victorian painting tends to be thought of as Pre-Raphaelite.

Asked to name a Pre-Raphaelite painting many would opt for John William Waterhouse’s dreamily mournful The Lady of Shalott which was painted much later (in 1888) and has none of the Pre-Raphaelites’ fiercely observed detail.

The best Pre-Raphaelite art has a uniqueness of vision, extraordinary purity and intensity. Millais’s Christ in the House of His Parents – in many ways the quintessential Pre-Raphaelite painting – harks back to the early Renaissance in its shallow perspective and even light, though it doesn’t look much like a 15th-century painting.

The fact that this image of a carpenter’s workshop, which radiates simplicity and sincerity, was universally condemned (“plainly revolting… a nameless atrocity”) only helped foster the group’s unity.

Yet this highly crystallised collective vision was short-lived. The Brotherhood dissolved after just five years into divergent tendencies. Hunt and Millais came to represent the realist wing, their work characterised by sharp lines and intense colour. Rossetti, Burne-Jones and William Morris took a more romantic path, retreating into a dreamy, medievalist netherworld populated by auburn-haired femmes fatales – turning out images that were far removed from the original Pre-Raphaelite imperative to “paint what you see”.

If the Pre-Raphaelites were painting in the open air 15 years before the Impressionists, as Rosenfeld points out, a comparison of the approaches of the two schools shows how variously the idea of “painting what you see” can be interpreted.

ladyshallot_2327309a.jpgWilliam Holman Hunt's The Lady of Shalott (TATE BRITAIN)

Whereas the Impressionists’ deadpan, optical view feels to us implicitly modern; with the Pre-Raphaelites there’s always a story. While contemporary audiences found these narratives worryingly oblique, to the modern viewer they are telegraphed with all the blatancy of a Hollywood movie. And whether they’re taking place in biblical times or 19th-century London, the characters in them all look Victorian.

“The Pre-Raphaelites have to be seen as part of the full pageant of 19th-century life,” says Rosenfeld. “As storytellers, they’re the equal of Dickens, Walter Scott or Thomas Hardy. They weren’t interested in being alienated artists removed from society. They wanted to make their mark within it. A painting like Hunt’s The Light of the World was seen everywhere in Victorian Britain and throughout the empire. It’s part of the story of the expansion of British society.”

Yet however much you dress it up in historical context, it’s difficult to escape the fact that the conjunction of Hunt’s painting and its companion piece, The Awakening Conscience, prove challenging for today’s viewers.

In The Light of the World the figure of Jesus, bathed in an eerie greenish glow, is seen knocking on a long unopened door, while in The Awakening Conscience, a kept woman – in essence a prostitute – seated on the knee of her lover looks upward, the light of a newly awakened morality in her eyes.

Yet if this unabashed meeting of high moralising and overt religiosity appears far removed from the aesthetic concerns of today, art’s imperatives have shifted in a way that favours a reappraisal of the Pre-Raphaelites.

The preoccupation with form that dominated art in the 20th century has long since given way to an interest in narrative and subjectivity – seen not least in the work of the Young British Artists.

Rather than attempt to be sufficient unto itself in the Modernist spirit, much art today illustrates themes, looking towards other forms – literature, music and film – in a way that makes the Pre-Raphaelites feel peculiarly relevant.

Our attitude towards their art reflects an odd awkwardness towards our own culture – particularly in relation to the visual arts.

Now feels a perfect moment to look again at this most British of art movements, and to immerse ourselves in the world that created them, in all its familiarity and opulent strangeness. Rather than rejecting the Victorian-ness of Pre-Raphaelite art, we should be looking further into it to get a deeper sense of who we are.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


Tate Britain Curator Claims Millais's 'Isabella' Contains Hidden Phallic Symbols

New light is being shed on a star painting in Tate Britain's new pre-Raphaelite exhibition after phallic symbols were apparently discovered in the work.

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde traces the 19th century British art movement led by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais.

Tate curator Dr Carol Jacobi is challenging the reputation of Victorians being repressed with a research paper on the painting Isabella (1848) by Millais in the show.

Her paper, to be published through the Tate, examines phallic symbols in the painting of two merchant brothers from Florence who discover that their sister has been having an affair with a clerk, Lorenzo. In the medieval story, retold in the Keats poem Isabella, the enraged brothers murder the clerk but Isabella digs up his body and plants his head in a pot of basil.

Dr Jacobi said that the shadow of a nutcracker, as well as the shape of one of the brother's legs, appears to be phallic symbols.

"It's not a one-off or a Freudian slip. It enriches our understanding of what is so hard to do in painting. It enriches our understanding of the characters," she said.

"This exhibition gives us the chance to look at it. Is it deliberate? If so, why would he have included it? It's quite shocking and unusual. It might be that the brothers are thinking about the desire and the dangers of desire.

"But more research needs to be done into how the Victorians saw what was Millais' first pre-Raphaelite painting."

Asked why the apparently phallic symbols were not noticed before, Dr Jacobi, whose paper is entitled Sugar, Salt And Curdled Milk: Millais And The Synthetic Subject, said: "When you look at a painting you have a story in your mind, so if something slips out you don't see it."

Dr Jacobi, who did not curate the Tate show, said another image in the painting, of salt being spilled, would have been familiar to Victorian audiences as a reference to a lack of sexual self-control.

The exhibition, which opens on 12 September, has been five years in the making and will also be shown in Washington, Moscow and Tokyo.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page have loaned some of the 150 works of sculpture, photography, drawings and applied arts on display.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


A Stairway to Pre-Raphaelite Heaven

By The Art Newspaper. From In The Frame

Published online: 11 September 2012

It should come as no surprise to fans of Led Zeppelin that the rock group's founder Jimmy Page is a big collector of Pre-Raphaelite works (all that long hair and those forests in his "Stairway to Heaven" anthem must be down, in part, to the art of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais). Indeed, art (and music) aficionados can see two tapestries by Edward Burne-Jones from Page's collection in the exhibition "Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde" which opens this week at Tate Britain in London (12 September-13 January 2013).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

As you know Kenog I'm huge fan of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. I'll have to get myself down to London to see those rare painting. I've got plenty of time to book a cheap train ticket! Thanks for posting! :)

Me too, but I completely missed this. What a pity.

Still, I'm not sure I'd have enjoyed it as much these days. The Tate's a big place, lots of walking involved. And nowadays, my feet sadly aren't what they used to be.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Me too, but I completely missed this. What a pity.

Still, I'm not sure I'd have enjoyed it as much these days. The Tate's a big place, lots of walking involved. And nowadays, my feet sadly aren't what they used to be.

Maybe a good pair of Dr. Scholl's would help with your aching feet. We have computerized state of the art get your arch measured centers in our apothecaries. Do you have a similar version across the pond?

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...