'The artists were the equivalent of Damian Hirst today': 'Controversial' Pre-Raphelite movement subject of new exhibition at Tate Britain
13:10 GMT, 17 April 2012
An exhibition on the Pre-Raphaelites, said to be the only visual British art movement to 'change the world', opens this autumn after five years in the making.
More than 150 works, including paintings, sculpture, photography, drawings and applied arts will go on display at the Tate Britain show.
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, led by 19th century British artists Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, rebelled against the art establishment of the day.
Lady Lilith, 1866-1868, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, courtesy of Delaware Art Museum, forms part of a new exhibition at the Tate Modern, which has taken five years to plan
The movement started in 1848 by a group of 'rebellious young students barely out of their teens'.
Their work caused controversy and provoked critics but the artists became 'superstars' in Britain and abroad.
'Everyone knew their names and they were the equivalent, you could say, of Damien Hirst today,' the show's curator Alison Smith said.
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood criticised 'Post-Renaissance art as all about the ego of the artist' and were committed to the idea of art's potential to change society.
Astarte Syriaca 1877 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, courtesy of Manchester City Galleries, depicts Roman Goddess of love Venus
'The movement was invented in Britain and spread abroad. It is the one time when a British art movement changes the world,' Ms Smith said.
The show will trace developments from the movement's formation, to their Symbolist creations in the 1890s, with works that 'still have the power to shock and hold your attention'.
Star paintings will include Ophelia by Millais, The Scapegoat by Hunt and works, such as Rossetti's Found, rarely seen in Britain.
Their paintings, sometimes with 'highly charged, sexual undercurrents'… 'disobeyed all the rules of art but entranced audiences'.
Ford Madox Brown's The Pretty-Baa Lambs,
which will go on display, is thought to show the first time a figure
had been painted outside instead of inside the studio
One of the paintings to go on show, The Doom Fulfilled by Edward Coley Burne-Jones, has been hailed as 'one of the great works of art of all time'.
Using bright, discordant colours, the artists rebelled against traditional rules of landscape painting.
'They were the first artists to take their canvases out of doors and paint outside, a development facilitated by the railways,' she said.
Ford Madox Brown's The Pretty-Baa Lambs, which will go on display, is thought to show the first time a figure had been painted outside instead of inside the studio.
The exhibition will also feature the role of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in the early development of the Arts and Crafts movement and the ideas of William Morris. Morris's bed, which he loved so much that he wrote a poem about it, will go on display.
One critic observed: 'The whole history of modern art begins with this painting.'
The exhibition will also feature the role of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in the early development of the Arts and Crafts movement and the ideas of William Morris.
Morris's bed, which he loved so much that he wrote a poem about it, will go on display.
Ms Smith said that recent scholarship had transformed understanding of the movement, which has not been the subject of a major exhibition in Britain for almost 30 years.
The exhibition will travel to the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.
Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde runs from September 12 to January 13.