Tate Britain Linbury Galleries
12 February – 3 May 2004
The Pre-Raphaelite movement fundamentally altered English approaches to landscape painting in the 1850s and remained influential long after. The group’s commitment to taking their canvases out of doors and working directly from nature led to new ways of seeing and painting, which were arguably as revolutionary as the achievements of the Impressionists of the same period.
Pre-Raphaelite Vision is the first exhibition to focus solely on the deep fascination the Pre-Raphaelites had for the natural world and enables visitors to explore a whole new dimension of their work. The exhibition brings together around 150 works including celebrated paintings such as William Holman Hunt’s Our English Coasts (Strayed Sheep) 1852, John William Inchbold’s Anstey’s Cove, Devon 1853-4 and of course John Everett Millais’ Ophelia 1851-2, all of which explore the scientific, religious and social culture of the age.
The exhibition will be divided into six themes. The opening section Selecting nothing, rejecting nothing looks at the artists’ fascination with detail, together with parallel developments in photography. The mere look of things addresses the concern for the ordinary and mundane which led certain artists to depict suburban environments, epitomised by Ford Madox Brown’s An English Autumn Afternoon of 1852-5.
Holy Lands examines a new type of landscape painting which emerged from an increased fascination with the Orient and places resonant with biblical history, as well as an instinct to make accurate painted records of locations and buildings felt to be at risk. This display includes Thomas Seddon’s The Great Sphinx 1854 and William Holman Hunt’s extraordinary The Scapegoat 1854-61.
The Constancy of Change focuses on artists’ interest in geology and includes work such as John Brett’s The Glacier of Rosenlaui 1856 and Millais’s John Ruskin 1853-4 which reflect the impact on art of contemporary scientific investigations into mountain erosion and glacial movement. By contrast The Inhabited Landscape focuses not upon landscape as nature or God’s creation, but increasingly as a setting for human activities in a pre-industrial rural Britain. Important works include Charles Napier Hemy Among the Shingle at Clovelly 1864 and William Dyce’s Pegwell Bay 1860.
The final section Impression of the effect looks at the abandonment of intricate detail and a shift towards a more poetic kind of landscape as evident in J M Whistler’s Nocturne: Blue and Silver – Chelsea 1871 and John Brett’s monumental The British Channel seen from Dorsetshire Cliffs 1871 which will be one of the revelations of the show.
Pre-Raphaelite Vision: Truth to Nature has been curated by Allen Staley and Christopher Newall together with Tate curators Alison Smith, Ian Warrell and Tim Batchelor. An accompanying catalogue will be published by Tate Publishing. The exhibition will travel to Altes Nationalgalerie, Berlin (12 June – 19 September 2004) and La Caixa, Madrid (6 October – 9 January 2005).
Secure booking at www.tate.org.uk/tickets or call 020 7887 8888
Open every day from 10.00 – 17.50 (last admission 17.00)
For more information please call 0207 887 8008