Victorian Avant-Garde


Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Lady Lilith, Oil on canvas, 37 1/2 x 32 in, 1868, © Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington. Combining rebellion and revivalism, scientific precision and imaginative grandeur, the Pre-Raphaelites constitute Britain’s first modern art movement. The upcoming exhibition at the Tate Britain12 September, 2012 – 13 January, 2013, 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. And will highlight the ambition and broad scope of their revolutionary ideas about art, design and society. Led by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and William Morris, 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 Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood 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 works, and will also re-introduce some rarely seen masterpieces. 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. 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.

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