Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde at Tate Britain

12 September 2012 – 13 January 2013, Tate Britain. Supported by The Pre-Raphaelites Exhibition Supporters Group. Admission £14.00 (£12.20 concessions) or £15.50 (£13.50 concessions) including Gift Aid. Open daily 10.00 – 18.00, and until 22.00 on the first Friday of every month for Late at Tate.
Combining rebellion and revivalism, scientific precision and imaginative grandeur, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood shook the art world of mid-nineteenth-century Britain. In autumn 2012, Tate Britain will stage a major survey of the group which sets out to show that the Pre-Raphaelites constitute Britain’s first modern art movement. Bringing together over 150 works which combine famous and lesser known Pre-Raphaelite paintings with sculpture, photography and the applied arts, this exhibition will highlight the ambition and broad scope of their revolutionary ideas about art, design and society.

Led by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, the Pre-Raphaelites rebelled against the art establishment of their day.  Their unflinchingly radical style, inspired by the purity of early Renaissance painting, defied convention, provoked critics and entranced audiences.

Today, known for their exquisitely detailed, vividly coloured style, the works of the Pre-Raphaelites are among the best known of all English paintings. Tracing developments from their formation in 1848 through to their Symbolist creations of the 1890s, this exhibition will show that whether their subjects were taken from modern life or literature, the New Testament or classical mythology, the Pre-Raphaelites were committed to the idea of art’s potential to change society. In pieces such as Madox Brown’s The Last of England 1852-5 (Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery) they served this aim by representing topical social issues and challenging prevailing attitudes. In other artworks including Burne-Jones’s King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid 1884 (Tate) a different approach is at work as they embraced beauty and ornamentation as a resistance to an increasingly industrialised society.

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde will offer the chance to see well-known paintings such as Ophelia 1851-2 (Tate) by John Everett Millais (1829-1896) and The Scapegoat 1854-5 (National Museums Liverpool) by William Holman Hunt (1827-1910). Highlights of the exhibition will also include masterpieces rarely seen in the UK such as Rossetti’s Found 1854-5/1859-81 (Delaware Art Museum, USA), Burne-Jones’s Perseus series (Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart) and Holman Hunt’s psychedelic The Lady of Shalott 1886-1905 (Wadsworth Atheneum, Connecticut). Spectacular mature works by Hunt, Millias, Rossetti and Madox Brown will also be united for the exhibition.

In contrast to previous Pre-Raphaelite surveys, this exhibition will juxtapose paintings with works in other media including the applied arts, showing the important role of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in the early development of the Arts and Crafts movement and the socialist ideas of the poet, designer and theorist, William Morris (1834-1896). Bringing together furniture and objects designed by Morris‘s firm, of which many Pre-Raphaelite artists were part, it will show how Morris’s iconography for British socialism ultimately evolved out of Pre-Raphaelitism. Highlights include Philip Webb and Burne-Jones’s The Prioress’s Tale wardrobe 1858 and the embroideries made by Jane and May Morris for William Morris’s bed at Kelmscott Manor c1891.

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde is curated by Alison Smith, Curator (Head of British Art to 1900), Tate Britain; Tim Barringer, Professor of History of Art at Yale University, Jason Rosenfeld, Distinguished Chair and Associate Professor of Art History at Marymount Manhattan College, New York.

12/09/12 – Curator’s Lunchtime Lecture

Dr Jason Rosenfeld on Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant Garde,

13.00-14.00 Tickets £9.00 (concessions £6.00), booking recommended

Join exhibition co-curator Dr Jason Rosenfeld for an exclusive insight into the creation of the show.

Jason Rosenfeld is Distinguished Chair and Professor of Art History at Marymount Manhattan College, New York. He co-curated an exhibition on Millais at Tate Britain, which travelled to Amsterdam, Fukuoka and Tokyo (2007–9), and has published a monograph on Millais for Phaidon Press.

19/10/12 – British Sign Language Tour of the Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant Garde,

19.00-20.00 Free, no ticket required

Join us for a BSL tour of the Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant Garde

19/11/12 – Curator’s Talk and Private View

Alison Smith on Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant Garde

18.30- 20.30 Tickets £20.00 (concessions £15.00), booking recommended

Join curator Alison Smith for an exclusive insight into the creation of the show, followed by a private view.

07/12/12 – Late at Tate Britain

18.00 – 22.00 Free, no ticket required

This late night opening explores the continuing influence of the Pre-Raphaelites on contemporary art, fashion and music. Expect a vibrant evening of performance, music and talks including artist intervention from David Mabb, a literary performance by Ruth Rosen and experience the sensory interactive installation ‘Ophelia Has A Dream’ by leading fashion designer Miharayasuhiro.

Tate Britain will stay open until 22.00. You can also explore the collection displays, see the Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant Garde and the Turner Prize exhibitions or enjoy a drink at the pay bar.



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3 responses to “Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde at Tate Britain

  1. Hi Serena, Have you got any links to these events, please? Cheers, Ian.

  2. Serena Trowbridge

    Hi Ian, I’m afraid all I have is a phone no: 020 7887 8888. I can’t even find the details on their website!

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