Monday, 26 November 2012

Pre-Raphaelites - Victorian Avant-Garde at the Tate Britain

Have you ever walked into a room and been truly overwhelmed by what you see? As a real fan of all things Pre-Raphaelite, I had the privilege of having this exact feeling when I walked into the Tate Britain when I recently went to visit their current special exhibition.

This time last year, I posted a blog with a small review of my northern Pre-Raphaelite tour (which you can read here), but this year it was the turn of the South. The exhibition is called Pre-Raphaelites - Victorian Avant-Garde, a vast collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings and other objects spanning the entire movement. The collection itself was awe-inspiring - it is as I've mentioned a very rare experience to see every painting you have ever loved in one single space, and I was simply blown away by the variety of pieces they had on show. I thought I would share with you a few of the pieces on display, but as I have said in the past they can only be truly enjoyed 'in the flesh.'

The first room of the exhibition contained portraits of the artists as well as earlier pieces by the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Millais, Holman Hunt and Rossetti.

Millais - Christ in the House of his Parents

Holman Hunt - Valentine Rescuing Sylvia from Proteus

Millais - Isabella

The second room highlighted the Pre-Raphaelites' interest in history and mythology - with paintings and other objects reflecting their fascination with times past.

Paolo E Francesca by Alexander Munroe which was inspired by the same story as the painting below.

Paolo E Francesca Da Rimini by Rossetti

 The Lady of Shallott (illustration) by Holman Hunt 

One of the highlights for me of this room was seeing one of the very few existing copies of Tennyson's poetry published by Moxon, which included several illustrations by the Pre-Raphaelites. It happened to be open on my favourite of the illustrations, The Lady of Shallott by Holman Hunt, the painting of which was also exhibited. 

The Lady of Shallott, Holman Hunt

The next room contained a small selection of pieces which highlight the Pre-Raphaelites attention to detail in their depictions of nature. The main highlight of this room was of course Millais' Ophelia - if it hadn't been so busy in there (and rightfully so!) I would have spent all day infront of her. Other important pieces in that room include Millais' portrait of John Ruskin and the Hireling Shepherd by Holman Hunt. 


Ophelia by Millais


The Hireling Shepherd by Holman Hunt

The room that follows contains a large group of paintings with another of the main Pre-Raphaelite themes - religion and morality. This room contains some truly awe inspiring and rather imposing paintings, including some of my favourites from the founding brotherhood. 

The Awakening Conscience by Holman Hunt

The Annunciation by Rossetti

The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple by Holman Hunt

The final highlights of the exhibition then move through the later period of the Pre-Raphaelite movement which focuses on aestheticism and beauty. Here you will find some of the more enchanting pieces focused on women by Rossetti and some fine examples of works relating to the Arts and Crafts movement as well as some of the Kelmscott printing work by William Morris. 

Lady Lilith by Rossetti

A Vision of Fiametta by Rossetti 

This really is just the tip of the iceberg of the collection that is on display - if like me you are a Pre-Raphaelite fan this exhibition is unmissable, it is a real honour to get to see all of these paintings in one space.
Pre-Raphaelites - Victorian Avant-Garde is open until 13th January 2012 at the Tate Britain. 

(note - everything in this blog is my opinion; I have not been endorsed to advertise the exhibition as this is simply a review/summary. All images of paintings belong to their respective owners)