Pre-Raphaelite Paintings Return To Tate After Two Year Road Trip


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’sThe 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.

The question remains, after a tour keeping the paintings from public view in the UK should the Tate adopt the position that the Mauritshuis royal picture gallery in The Hague has? The Girl with a Pearl Earring will no longer be loaned, the museum, which reopened last month after two years’ renovation work stated that it will no longer allow Vermeer’s masterpiece out. 


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