From October 2, 2009, to February 7, 2010, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will host the largest-ever retrospective of works by the celebrated British artist John William Waterhouse (1849-1917). J. W. Waterhouse: Garden of Enchantment is the first large-scale monographic exhibition on Waterhouse’s work since 1978 and the first to feature his entire artistic career. This retrospective features some eighty works that are among the finest and most spectacular of the artist’s production, on loan from public and private collections in Australia, England, Ireland, Taiwan, the United States and Canada. It will also present many of the artist’s attractive studies in oil, chalk and pencil. Several of these works have not been exhibited since Waterhouse’s lifetime. The exhibition has been organized by the Groninger Museum, the Netherlands, with the collaboration of the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition, which premiered at the Groninger Museum, will also be presented at the Royal Academy of Arts (June 27 to September 13, 2009), and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (October 1, 2009, to February 7, 2010).
In addition, the Tate has just agreed to allow Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott travel to Canada to be a part of the exhibition. There is more information about the exhibition here.
Maria Emmons, a PRS member in the USA, has kindly sent me this review: Recently, I was about to view the “Sin and Salvation: William Holman Hunt and the Pre-Raphaelite Vision” at the Minneapolis Museum of Arts.
The exhibit begins with paintings from Hunt and other members of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. select paintings like Rossetti’s “Girlhood of Mary Virgin” and “The Bower Meadow” as well as Millais’ “Peace Concluded” and Hughes’ “The Long Engagement,” hang with Hunt’s “The Flight of Madeline and Porphyro”, “Claudio and Isabella”, “Valentine rescuing Sylvia”, and “The Awakening Conscience.” All of these paintings illustrate the Pre-Raphaelite art style as well as show the bond between the artwork and literature, or the art telling a story. Later in the exhibition, much attention is given to Hunt’s interpretation of “The Lady of Shalott” which ties into the rich Pre-Raphaelite literary history established in this first room.
The next room includes portraits that Hunt painted– mainly of family members such as his wife, her sister, his mother in law, and his son. These portraits include the details associated with Hunt’s other works, and the information supplied in the room helps explain much of Hunt’s personal life and relationships.
The third room focuses on Hunt’s visits to the Middle East. Many of these paintings are landscapes of the region and homes in the area. “The Afterglow in Egypt” is splendid in size and detail. Hunt’s interest in religion is emphasized in paintings such as “Our English Countryside”, “The Scapegoat”, “The Finding of the Saviour in the Temple” and “The Shadow of Death.” It is easy to see how visiting the Middle East helped Hunt create authentic settings for his religious paintings.
An interesting aspect of the exhibit was the sharing of Hunt’s Middle Eastern clothes collection including coats, skullcaps, and dresses. These costumes were purchased in Palestine and worn by the family or used as props in the studio.
Many sketches, drawings, and etchings provide insight into the design of artwork or the inspiration that Hunt’s work had on others as they attempted to create a copy to share with the Victorian public so they could have an image in their home.
The last sections of the exhibit focused on two of Hunt’s works: “The Light of the World” and “The Lady of Shalott.” Various versions and sketches show how these two artworks had an effect on the public. It is interesting that these two pieces are chosen,as they seem to do well to represent Hunt’s work overall. One is religious and the other literary in nature, what I would assume were two of Hunt’s main topics when choosing a subject for painting. The attention that Hunt paid to even designing a real lantern for the “Light of the World” painting is astounding. It is clear that the painting had an impact on society. “The Lady of Shallot” was one of my particular favorites to see. The huge canvas draws you into the story as you marvel at the details and symbols included in the painting.
I really enjoyed this exhibit very much. Hunt is generally not one of my favorite Pre-Raphaelites, but it was enjoyable learning more about his personal life and seeing how his interests and travels influenced his work. The exhibit is nicely organized by theme which helps you remember the overall show and information more clearly. It was especially interesting to learn more detail about “Light of the World” and “The Lady of Shallot” through the different versions and sketches presented.
The exhibit was organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada in association with Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester, United Kingdom. The exhibit is at the Minneapolis Art Museum until September 6th, 2009. They have timed tickets which cost $8.00 for adults. The catalog of the show is available for $55.00. For more information, visit http://www.artsmia.org/sin-salvation/index.html
If anyone fancies a bit of travelling this Summer, I’d like to draw your attention to a comment from our “Low Countries correspondent” which might be of interest:
Until 23 August 2009 there’s a major retrospective dedicated to the Belgian artist Alfred Stevens at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium in Brussels. Stevens was a contemporary of the Pre-Raphaelites and often painted similar subjects. His later work is more related to Whistler. You can find all the practical details on how to visit the show here.
Definitely worth taking the Eurostar for!
PS: When you’re at the RMFAB in Brussels, don’t forget to have a look at their most prized possesion, Burne-Jones’ The Wedding of Psyche.