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.
Chris Stephens

 

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
Tim Batchelor 

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.
Tim Batchelor 

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.
Tim Batchelor 

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
Greg Sullivan

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.
Greg Sullivan 

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.
Greg Sullivan 

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.
Alison Smith 

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.
Carol Jacobi

Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1910–1914

Chris Stephens explores British art from 1910–1914, referencing cubist and futurist artworks

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.
Chris Stephens

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.
Chris Stephens 

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.
Chris Stephens 

Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1950

Chris Stephens explores abstract, figurative and realist works of British art from 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.
Chris Stephens 

Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: 1960

Chris Stephens explores British art from 1960, a period which saw new forms of abstraction and the emergence of conceptual art

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.
Chris Stephens 


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
Helen Little 


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.
Helen Little 

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.
Helen Little 

Meet 500 years of British Art - Room: Henry Moore

Chris Stephens explores the work of Henry Moore, the first permanent display of his work in London

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.
Chris Stephens

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.
David Brown 

Meet 500 years of British Art – Room: William Blake

Martin Myrone explores the work of William Blake from Tate’s permanent display

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.
Martin Myrone



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.
Penelope Curtis