Press Release

Tate Britain Welcomes Home Ophelia

Tate Britain Welcomes Home Ophelia
Child viewing Sir John Everett Millais, Bt Ophelia 1851-2 at Tate Britain

© James Deavin

Tate Britain’s major Pre-Raphaelite works including John Everett Millais’s Ophelia 1851-2 and Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Beloved 1865-6 will go back on display from Friday 8 August alongside other key works from the movement. They return home to Tate Britain following an international tour to the US, Russia, Japan and Italy where they were seen by over 1.1 million people.

The works going back on display also include Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Beata Beatrix c.1864-70, Ford Madox Brown’s Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet 1852-6 and William Holman Hunt’s The Awakening Conscience 1853. They have today been reunited with John William Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott 1888 and Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones’s The Golden Stairs 1880 and other Victorian paintings.

Millais’s Ophelia was one of the founding works in Tate’s collection. It has long been one of the nation’s most loved paintings and one of the best-selling postcards at the gallery. Depicting the drowning Ophelia from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, the painting was regarded in its day as one of the most accurate and elaborate studies of nature ever made. The background was painted from life on the bank of the Hogsmill River in Surrey and the model was Elizabeth Siddall who posed for the painting in a bath of water kept warm by lamps underneath.

Penelope Curtis, Director, Tate Britain said:

It has been fascinating to see how popular the Pre-Raphaelites have been in different international contexts and how they resonate with other cultures. It is great to welcome them back and to be able to integrate them into our permanent displays again.

Opening to great acclaim at Tate Britain in 2012, Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde visited the National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow; the Mori Art Center, Tokyo; and the Palazzo Chiablese, Turin. This exhibition was the one of the largest surveys of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which shook the art world of mid-nineteenth-century Britain. Exploring their revolutionary ideas about art and society, the exhibition set out to show that the Pre-Raphaelites were Britain’s first modern art movement. It included famous and less familiar Pre-Raphaelite paintings as well as sculpture, photography and the applied arts.

The BP Walk through British Art opened in May 2013 at Tate Britain. This display of the national collection of British art presents around 500 artworks over a newly configured sequence of over 20 galleries as a continuous chronological display – a walk through time from the 1540s to the present day.

See also

  • Pre-Raphaelite

    The Pre-Raphaelites were a secret society of young artists (and one writer), founded in London in 1848. They were opposed …

International Partnerships at Tate

Tate is developing collaborative programmes and initiatives with a range of partners, connecting Tate’s staff and collection to programmes, audiences, institutions and individuals in many different parts of the world. This includes work with international partners to develop, curate and tour exhibitions. Tate also runs an extensive international loans programme. Forthcoming tours include Henri Matisse: The Cut Outs touring to the Museum of Modern Art from 14 October 2014 to 9 February 2015; J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free will show at the J. Paul Getty Museum Los Angeles, USA from 24 February to 24 May 2015 and the de Young Museum, San Francisco, USA from 20 June to 20 September 2015; and Alibis: Sigmar Polke travelling to the Museum Ludwig, Cologne in spring 2015.

Tate Britain

In 1889 Henry Tate offered his collection of British art to the nation and a new gallery dedicated to British art was created to house Henry Tate’s gift along with works of British artists from various other collections.  Tate gallery first opened its doors to the public in 1897, displaying 245 works in eight rooms from British artists dating back to 1790. Tate Britain now houses the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day. Situated on Millbank, London, it is one of Tate’s four major sites. A new Tate Britain was unveiled in 2013 following a £45 million development which has transformed the oldest part of the Grade II building and created new spaces for display, education and social activities.

BP’s support for UK Arts and Culture

2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the BP and Tate partnership. Across this time BP has enabled Tate Britain to present the national collection of British Art to the public for free. Over 35 million people have now seen the BP Displays since they were unveiled in January 1990 and BP’s continued support allows Tate to regularly change the displays so the public can enjoy the breadth of the world’s greatest collection of British Art.

BP has supported arts and culture in the UK for over 35 years and currently focuses its support on long-term partnerships with four world class institutions; The British Museum, The National Portrait Gallery, The Royal Opera House and Tate Britain. More than 50 million people across the UK engaged with BP supported activities during this time. BP’s investment of almost £10 million in extending its long term partnerships until 2017, represents one of the most significant long-term corporate investments in UK arts and culture.