Category Archives: Exhibitions

‘Anarchy and Beauty’ – National Portrait Gallery Visit December 6th

All Pre-Raphaelite Society members are invited to a gallery visit hosted by the London and Southern group to see ‘Anarchy and Beauty: William Morris and his Legacy 1860-1960‘. The visit will take place on Saturday 6th December 2014, at 1p.m at The National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, London, WC2H 0HE.

Anarchy & Beauty explores the life and ideas of the great Victorian artist, writer and visionary thinker William Morris. Through portraits, personal items and objects, many of which will be on public display for the first time, this major exhibition illustrates how the ‘art for the people’ movement had its roots in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’s challenge to accepted attitudes to art and also in John Ruskin’s politically radical perception that every human being has inherent creative talent and that handwork was not inferior to brainwork.

Curated by author and biographer Fiona MacCarthy, the exhibition features original furniture and textiles designed and owned by Morris as well as the work of his contemporaries including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William De Morgan, architect Philip Webb and Edward Burne-Jones. These will be showcased alongside remarkable books, jewellery, ceramics and clothing by craftspeople such as Eric Gill, Bernard Leach and Terence Conran, demonstrating how Morris’s legacy continued into the twentieth century, influencing radical politics, the Garden City movement and the Festival of Britain in 1951.

For further details relating to the event mentioned above please email Madeleine Pearce, the London and Southern Group coordinator, Sign up leaflets will be available in the next PRS mailing and must be received before October 31st.



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Men in Pants: Evelyn De Morgan’s life drawings

Evelyn De Morgan’s male life drawings from the Slade School onwards from 7th February – 26th April 2014    This
exhibition of Evelyn De Morgan’s highly celebrated drawings and sketches explores her time at the Slade School of Art and sheds new light on the experiences of female Victorian artists.
 Evelyn De Morgan began her artistic career at the Slade School of Art, where she was able to develop her interest in drawing the human body, winning prizes for her life drawing. The
Slade was the first school in Britain to offer female students the opportunity to attend classes in life drawing alongside the traditional
practice of drawing from classical sculptures. While the male life models were partially covered to make the classes acceptable to female students, this remained a bold innovation in art training, attracting much criticism. This exhibition will explore Evelyn’s experience of life drawing and her interaction and engagement with her models. Featuring material from the De Morgan Centre’s archive of drawings, this display of sketches show how Evelyn’s experience of drawing models at the Slade School and beyond
shaped the expressive qualities of her paintings. Her skilful drawings reveal her creative technique and mastery of drapery and composition. Pieces displayed in this exhibition include a remarkable charcoal study of The Wrestlers, created during Evelyn’s time at the Slade School, and unclothed and draped double studies for her oil paintings Boreas and Oreithyia and The Valley of the Shadows. This exhibition provides a fascinating insight into the artistic work of Evelyn De Morgan and the experiences of female artists in the late 19th Century. The De Morgan Centre will be open until 8pm on 6th March and 3rd April. This exhibition will run until Saturday 26th April 2014.

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Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia at the Sainsbury Centre

ME55 Burne-Jones, The Knights and the Briar RoseThose with an interest in Pre-Raphaelitism may enjoy the exhibition below, at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich. The exhibition will include The Knight and the Briar Rose (1869) (left) by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898), from the collection of
Houghton Hall, in Norfolk

Masterpieces:  Art and East Anglia, 14 September 2013 to 24 February 2014

A major exhibition of works of art celebrating the rich and distinctive culture and artistic heritage of East Anglia, from antiquity through to the present day, will mark the unveiling of the newly-refurbished galleries by Norman Foster at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich.  Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia, opening on 14 September 2013, is the most ambitious exhibition ever staged in the region and will also be the centrepiece of the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the University of East Anglia.

Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia will present some 250 objects that the region has inspired, produced and collected, as well as treasures that have long been associated with the area, loaned by over sixty major public and private collections including the Royal Collection, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Gallery.  The extraordinarily diverse selection of masterworks will range from paintings, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, glass and jewellery to photography, graphic design, fashion and costume, product and textile design.  The juxtapositions promise to be spectacular:  a flint handaxe worked at least 700,000 years ago will sit alongside an ironstone pebble from the same Norfolk beach carved into a reclining figure by Henry Moore in 1930; striking pre-war posters and prints will hang in galleries with works by John Sell Cotman and John Constable; a masterly Thomas Gainsborough family portrait will be shown alongside haunting images of Edwardian fishermen by Olive Edis; sculptures by Barbara Hepworth and Elisabeth Frink will be interspersed with sculptural works from the Classical, Medieval and Renaissance periods; Ana Maria Pacheco’s mythical party in a gigantic boat will be moored in the East Gallery whilst the iconic Lotus 72 sports car takes up pole position in the West End.

The Happisburgh flint handaxe, dating from around 700,000 BC, is the oldest object in the exhibition and its starting point.  Unearthed in 2000 on Happisburgh beach, Norfolk, its find has radically altered historians’ understanding of our past, revealing that Britain was inhabited by humans 100,000 years earlier than previously thought.  The axe will be displayed alongside Reclining Figure, carved from an ironstone pebble found on the same Norfolk beach by Henry Moore (1898-1986) in 1930.  Moore, one of Britain’s most renowned sculptors, was a frequent visitor to the north Norfolk coast and a close friend and supporter of Lord Robert and Lady Lisa Sainsbury who gifted their collection to the University of East Anglia in 1973.  The depth and breadth of Masterpieces can be summed up in the juxtaposition of these two works.

Norfolk and Suffolk have a rich heritage of sites where treasures, hoards and antiquities have been discovered.  One of these remarkable finds is the striking life-size bronze head of the Roman emperor Claudius (r. 41-54 AD).  The conquest of Britain provided a military triumph for Claudius who had been perceived as a retiring, scholarly man rather than a leader.  Fished from the River Alde, near Saxmundham, Suffolk, in 1907, the head is probably part of a statue taken from the Temple of Claudius, in Colchester, by Boudica and the Iceni tribe when they sacked the Roman capital in 60 AD.

Anyone who has visited East Anglia cannot fail to have noticed the large number of churches in the region:  from the tiny family or village parish chapels to the soaring cathedral in Norwich.  From the latter comes the Despenser Retable, a painting which dates back to the late 14th century and is a rare survival from that period.  Its name derives from the warlike bishop of Norwich, Henry Despenser (1369-1406) who led the fight against the rebels in the Peasants’ Revolt in 1381.  Travelling from further afield is the ‘Berger Crucifixion’, named after the Denver private collection of which it is now part.  It is the only well-preserved early 15th century English devotional panel painting in existence and is renowned for its outstanding qualities as an image for contemplation.  The Talbot dogs, depicted on the tunic of the centurion, suggest it may have been made for the nunnery of Crabhouse, west Norfolk, where Matilda Talbot was prioress from 1395 to 1420.

East   Anglia has always enjoyed strong links with the monarchy and a number of works reflect this special relationship such as the silver, gold and bejewelled King John Cup, c. 1325.  This King’s Lynn treasure is the oldest and finest specimen of English secular medieval cups, though it dates from more than a century after the crown jewels of King John were claimed by a Wash tide when en route to Lynn.  Sandringham, the country retreat of HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, is represented by a number of miniature Fabergé animals, made for Queen Alexandra who had married the Prince of Wales in 1863, including the famed Dormouse.  Whilst it may be the smallest exhibit in Masterpieces, it is certain to steal many hearts.

Portraits of Norfolk and Suffolk people feature prominently in the exhibition.  Over the centuries, the country houses in the region have played host to royalty, nobility and politicians and this exalted social scene is embodied in a wonderful society portrait of Sybil Sassoon, The Countess of Rocksavage, painted in 1922 by Sir John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) – to be exhibited alongside the fabulous Worth dress in which she is posing.  The Countess, later 5th Marchioness of Cholmondeley, was not typical of the English aristocracy.  Known for her magnetic charm, she was also a crack shot and an intrepid driver of fast motorcars, but is remembered particularly for her commitment to restoring Houghton Hall in Norfolk to its former glory.

The other end of the social spectrum is vividly captured in the photographs by the pioneering north Norfolk photographer, Olive Edis (1876-1955), recently acquired by CromerMuseum.  Gilbert “Leather” Rook is just one of the stunning sepia images of Cromer and Sheringham fishermen included in the exhibition.

A 20th century artist, not normally associated with the area, is the Berkshire artist Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) who is represented by Southwold, painted in 1937, twelve years after he and his ex-wife Hilda had visited there on their honeymoon.  When he painted the picture he was alone, divorced from Hilda and already separated from his short-lived second marriage to Patricia Preece, making this consummate image of a happy family seaside holiday a wistful scene from which the artist himself was excluded.

No exhibition of East Anglian masterpieces would be complete without works by masters of the Norwich School of painters which, founded in 1803, was the first provincial art movement in Britain.  John Sell Cotman (1782-1842), a leading member, is represented by probably the finest surviving watercolour of a Norfolk scene, Storm on Yarmouth Beach, 1831, which has been chosen for the exhibition by Norfolk Lord Lieutenant, Richard Jewson.  It will be shown next to a great watercolour of Yarmouth from the same year by J. M. W. Turner (1775-1851), loaned by the Victoria and Albert Museum.

The largest exhibit will be The Longest Journey by the Brazilian-born artist Ana Maria Pacheco (b. 1943), who was Head of Fine Art at the Norwich School of Art (now NUA) from 1985 to 1989.  The time she spent in Norfolk inspired some of her major sculptures and the idea of the journey became a central motif in her work.  The Longest Journey is made from a 30-foot fishing boat, the Valentina, which Ana found in 1994 at Wroxham on the Norfolk Broads.  The huge, disturbing figures on board have been chain-sawn, hewn, blow-torched, sanded and painted into existence.  The Longest Journey has a rich, serious, literary and intellectual frame of reference and its title is from The Ship of Death, one of D. H. Lawrence’s most powerful poems, written when he was dying: ‘Build then the ship of death, for you must take the longest journey, to oblivion’.

A faster journey would definitely be taken in the Lotus 72, a Formula One car designed by Colin Chapman and Maurice Philippe of Lotus for the 1970 season, which was one of the most remarkable and successful designs in F1 history.  The car resembled a wedge on wheels inspired by the earlier Lotus 56 gas-turbine model.  Driven by Jochen Rindt, it won the Dutch, French, British and German Grands Prix in quick succession.  In 1966 Lotus moved to a purpose-built factory in Hethel, Norfolk, a former US Air Force base.

These and other masterpieces will celebrate the cultural achievement of Eastern England through the centuries, as well as the contribution that the UEA and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts have made to the region.  The Centre is distinguished for having the largest group of early paintings by Francis Bacon (1909-1992), perhaps the greatest figurative artist of the second half of the 20th century in northern Europe.  During the 1950s Robert and Lisa Sainsbury developed a close relationship with the artist, cemented in 1955 when Lisa commissioned him to make a portrait of Sir Robert, the only time Bacon agreed to such a venture.  In the same year, Bacon began a series of portraits of Lisa of which Sketch for a Portrait of Lisa, included in this exhibition, is the earliest surviving example.  Francis Bacon, who visited Norwich shortly after the Sainsbury Centre opened, wrote to Sir Robert Sainsbury in May 1978: “I went to Norwich last week and saw your magnificent collection of sculptures.  You and Lisa have really made a wonderful gift to the nation”.  The Sainsbury Collection represents the greatest act of arts philanthropy of the 20th century in Britain and its worth to East Anglia is immeasurable.

Masterpieces: Art and East Anglia will be accompanied by a handsome publication and a diverse events programme including a Masterpieces Lecture series, lunchtime talks, symposia, Creative Studio workshops, film screenings, family activity days as well as ‘Masterpiece Trails’, a partnership project aimed at encouraging visitors to explore works in situ across both Norfolk and Suffolk.


Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898), The Knights and the Briar Rose, 1869, Oil on canvas, 125.5 x 202 cm, framed). Private Collection. Photo credit: Pete Huggins. 


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Reviews of Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde

At the Pre-Raphaelite Society we are all very excited about the major new exhibition at the Tate. Reviews are generally fairly positive (although of course not everyone has a taste for Pre-Raphaelitism!), so here are a few reviews to whet your appetite if you haven’t booked your visit yet! This is, of course, just a small selection of the reviews that are available on the web – if you come across another one you think people should read, please comment and include a link to it.


The Kissed Mouth (Kirsty Stonell Walker)

Endymion at Night (Robert Parry)

Jan Marsh

Verity Holloway

Culture and Anarchy (Serena Trowbridge)

Making a Mark (Katherine Tyrrell)


The Guardian

The Independent

The Telegraph

The Evening Standard


One Stop Arts

The Arts Desk

The Upcoming




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Revivals: the English Arts & Crafts movement and Transylvania

Sat 9 July– Mon 29 August
Exhibition: Revivals: the English Arts & Crafts movement and Transylvania
An exhibition of paintings by Marianne and Adrian Stokes curated by Magdalen Evans & photographs of the work of the Mihai Eminescu Trust.

Creativity in Transylvania, captured by photographs of the revival of its historic buildings and a small display of objects showing the return of traditional craftsmanship in present-day Romania, will be shown alongside a selection of paintings by Marianne and Adrian Stokes. The Stokes took inspiration from both the English Arts & Crafts movement and from the rapidly changing Carpathians at the turn of the last century

Fri 15th July at 5.45
Lecture: Jessica Douglas-Home: The Eminescu Trust: Restoration and Revival in Transylvania
Venue: Court Room, Old Police Station, High Street, Chipping Campden
Tickets £5

Sat 23 July at 11.30
One-on-one: Mary Greensted will focus on a painting by Marianne Stokes to set the exhibition in the context of the Arts & Crafts movement

For more information see

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Lucien Pissarro in England

On 8 January 2011 the Ashmolean will celebrate the work of painter, engraver and printmaker, Lucien Pissarro (1863-1944) with the first comprehensive display of his Eragny Press 1895-1914.

Lucien Pissarro In England will exhibit the 32 books printed by Lucien and his wife Esther at their home in London, along with his preparatory drawings, and paintings by his father, Camille Pissarro, who assisted him during the 1890s.

The Ashmolean is home to the Pissarro Family Archive – the greatest archive in the world devoted to an Impressionist painter. It is famed as a source of information about Camille and his Impressionist colleagues. However, most of the collection concerns the life and work of Lucien, founder of the Eragny Press. Exhibited alongside paintings by Camille, such as The Cricket Match, an apt subject reflecting the exhibition’s theme of the Entente Cordiale between English and French art, will be family photographs and letters from the archive.

The exquisite handmade Eragny books are the central focus of the display. These are beautifully printed using wood blocks designed by Lucien and cut by him and his wife with a degree of artistry which owed much to the influence of the English Arts and Crafts movement. These extraordinary illustrations, often printed in colour and sometimes with added gold, accompanied the texts of French and English authors, ranging from classic to modern literature. The first book, published in 1895, was the fairytale The Queen of Fishes by Gerard de Nerval, translated into English by Margaret Rust. Others include Un Coeur Simple by Gustave Flaubert (1901) and Of Gardens by Sir Francis Bacon, first published in 1625. To highlight the influence of the English art scene on Lucien’s work and his concurrent artistic contribution in England, there are a number of books from several famous contemporary private presses, including William Morris’s Kelmscott Press and Charles Ricketts’s Vale Press.

Lucien was first sent to London by his father in 1883, and he returned in 1890 when he made it his permanent home. In the same year, he delivered an important talk to the Art Workers’ Guild on the Impressionists and developments in painting in France. In turn he became increasingly involved in English artistic circles. He was introduced to the mainstream of the English Arts and Crafts Movement and to the followers of Edward Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelites, later developing a close relationship with the artists of the Camden Town group. He was inspired, in particular, by the Arts and Crafts ideal of the master craftsman who involves himself in every stage of production.

His heart, however, remained in France. He named the press after Eragny-sur-Epte in Normandy where the Pissarro family lived from 1884 and where he and his brothers had received so much of their French artistic education. Throughout his career, the influence of the English designers was modified by the input of Lucien’s father who urged his son not to abandon French naivety for English sophistication.

It is this curious blend of two quite different traditions – a French artistic upbringing and the English craft revival in full swing – which gives the Eragny books their unique character.

Dates: 8 January – 13 March 2011
Venue: Temporary Exhibition Gallery 61
Admission: Free
Catalogue: £15

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The William Morris Gallery

The Peacock and Bird Carpet

21 January – 31 March 2011

This spectacular and newly acquired ‘peacock and bird’ carpet will be the focus of our spring exhibition. On public display for the first time, this is a wonderful opportunity to explore Morris’ pioneering revival of the art of the hand-knotted carpet. A wide range of sources, from historic photographs of the Merton Abbey works to Morris’ own lectures on carpet making, will be used to contextualise this fabulous acquisition.

To find out more about this and other events at the William Morris Gallery please visit

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