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London show explores Pre-Raphaelite radicals

By Korea Herald

Published : Sept. 12, 2012 - 20:00

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LONDON (AFP) ― An exhibition celebrating the Pre-Raphaelite movement that shook up the Victorian art world opened at London’s Tate Britain on Wednesday.

“Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde” includes masterpieces by the group’s founders ― William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

The group formed in rebellion against the art establishment, and was inspired by the purity of early Renaissance painting and the natural world.

The Tate exhibition features well-known paintings including Millais’s “Ophelia,” “The Scapegoat” by Hunt and Rossetti’s “Found” ― rarely shown in Britain.
“Astarte Syriaca” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. (Manchester City Galleries) “Astarte Syriaca” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. (Manchester City Galleries)

The Pre-Raphaelites were known for their use of vivid colours and exquisite detail, and their works are among the best known of all English paintings.

The exhibition is the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings since 1984 and traces the movement’s development from its formation in 1848 through to its Symbolist works of the 1890s.

Carol Jacobi, Tate’s curator of British Victorian art, is due to publish a paper claiming that Millais’s “Lorenzo” ― one of the exhibition’s star attractions ― contains a shadow deliberately shaped like a phallus.

“It’s an example of how incredibly innovative and courageous (the Pre-Raphaelites were),” she told the Times newspaper.

“It’s not about heterosexual sex,” she added. “It’s incredibly courageous to break so many rules.”

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page are among those to have have loaned works for the show, which runs in London until January 15 before travelling to Washington, Tokyo and Moscow.