In 2013, Tate Britain unveiled a chronological rehang of its displays from the sixteenth century to the present, entitled BP Walk Through British Art. Explore the displays as Tate curators take you through the rooms decade by decade. Please note, the artworks in these videos might not currently be on display
TateShots: Meet 500 Years of British Art
Curator Chris Stephens introduces the displays
The idea of the chronological circuit is very simple. It presents the history of British art in the order it was made to dispense with traditional art historical constructs.
Meet 500 Years of British Art – Room: 1540–1650
Curator Tim Batchelor explores British art from 1540–1650, the earliest artworks from Tate’s collection
This early period of British art focuses on portraiture, the family dynasty and status
Meet 500 Years of British Art – Room: 1650–1730
Curator Tim Batchelor explores British Art from 1650–1730, including the first female professional painter, Mary Beale
This period was one of dramatic change. Of the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the plague, fire, the glorious revolution, and the creation of the United Kingdom in 1707.
Meet 500 years of British Art – Room: 1730–1765
Curator Tim Batchelor explores British Art from 1730–1765 including an iconic self-portait by Hogarth
This is a period when Britain is really emerging as a world power on the world stage. Growing economically, politically…and culturally.
Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1760–1780
Curator Greg Sullivan explores British Art from 1760–1780, a period dominated by the work of Sir Joshua Reynolds
It’s a small room but it’s of vital significance to the history of British art. This is because 1768 was the foundation of the Royal Academy
Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1780–1810
Curator Greg Sullivan explores British art during the war period of 1780–1810
The time of 1780–1810 war-like period in British History is reflected in the artworks in the room. On the one hand, there was the expansion of territory on the Indian sub-continent, and then there was twenty years of war with France.
Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1810–1840
Curator Greg Sullivan explores British art from 1810–1840, a room which sees the emergence of sculpture
I suppose when we think of that period in the late nineteenth century we tend to think of British landscape painting but it is also a period of great neo-classical works and this is well represented in the room by the sculpture.
Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1840–1890
Curator Alison Smith explores British art from 1840–1890, a room which captures the feel of the ‘Great Exhibition’ of the Victorian gallery
A number of artists work in the mid-nineteenth century wanted to use their artworks to address topical social and political issues.
Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1890–1910
Curator Carol Jacobi explores British art from 1890–1910, particularly focusing on sculpture
This was a period that continued the exploration of realism of the nineteenth century and also the literary and mythical themes of the nineteenth century, but adapted to the twentieth century anxieties and aspirations.
Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1910–1914
What comes across from all of these great works is a great sense of energy, of artistic change and of dynamism, as Britain becomes modernised and the centre of an empire.
Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1914 & 1915
Chris Stephens explores British art from 1914 and 1915, a room which strongly reflects the impact of the First World War
By 1915 Epstein was so disillusioned by the war that he couldn’t bare the sight of this image of mechanicalised destruction that he took this large figure down, cut it in half making it a much more ambiguous image with the helmeted machine-like head and yet within the torso a small embryo, an image of hopeful renewal in the future.
Chris Stephens about Sir Jacob Epstein’s Torso in Metal from ‘The Rock Drill’ 1913–14
Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1930
Chris Stephens explores British art and the rising styles of sculptors from 1930
I find this room very moving because whether abstract or realist, it is full of works made out of the belief of arts ability to change the world. But of course the 1930s ends with the beginning of World War Two – the unleashing of the horrors of that conflict and the Holocaust fundamentally undermined that optimistic belief in the power of culture.
Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1940
Chris Stephens explores British art from 1940, a period dominated by World War Two and the Holocaust
You see art made during the war, scenes of devastation and of mutilation…we see images of pessimism, optimism, horrific scenes and utopian idealism, all different responses to the same horrific historic situation.
Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1950
The modern was a highly contested area, these were the years when people were emerging from the shadows of the Second World War and still struggling to find an appropriate artistic language for the time.
Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1960
This room brings together artists of three different generations with quite different agendas making different forms of art and yet the room is full of unexpected relationships, echoes and conversations going on between the works. It is one of the great strengths of showing art simply by the period in which it was made.
Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1970 &1980
Helen Little explores British art from 1970 and 1980, a time of political commentary and satire
In many ways art from this period defies categorisation and we see a new generation of artists continuously renegotiating the art object
Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1990
Helen Little explores British art from 1990, a time which is most associated with the Young British Artists (YBAs)
In this time London emerged as a multicultural city and it was very much heredited as a new centre for contemporary art.
Meet 500 years of British Art – Room: 2000
Helen Little explores British art from 2000, a room which shows the latest additions to Tate’s collection
Our ambition for this room is that it will change much more regularly than pervious rooms so we can continually change and adapt to the scope of contemporary art.
Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: Henry Moore
In the post-war period, the family became a very powerful metaphor for the new society which was being established. Henry Moore very much became the artist of post-war Britain that was being established with the welfare state, the national heath service and the family was continuously used as an image of a communitarian society.
Meet 500 years of British Art – Room: J.M.W. Turner
David Brown explores the work of J.M.W. Turner, one of the most important artists from Tate’s collection
Sometimes the stories in Turner’s pictures are quite hard to find because the main interest for him was the background, the subject, the landscape and architecture.
Meet 500 years of British Art – Room: William Blake
Blake is not a very easy artist to interpret. His work deals with strange, personal and often very archaic themes. What I hope is that the Blake room will help reinsert Blake’s role not only in the history of poetry, or the imagination, or Britain’s cultural life, but also as a visual artist.
Meet 500 years of British Art - Director's Highlights: Penelope Curtis
Tate Director Penelope Curtis selects some highlights from Tate Britain’s displays and considers how new visual dialogues have been created through juxtapositions of art work
The rehang of the collection is more introductory, more open and takes you at the very beginning of the collection right through to the very end…we have used chronology very simply so you see how things happen at the same time and often quite different things happen at the same time.