What does the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood call to mind? Heady, symbolic paintings with highly colourful palettes and shocks of medieval, jewel-bright colour. We think of abundance, nature, myth, love, death.
With all the high-falutin’ excess of the paintings, you probably don’t associate the Pre-Raphaelites with plain old draughtsmanship. And yet, these Victorian artists produced wonderful drawings during throughout their lives. Next year, the exquisite Leighton House Museum will stage an exhibition of these works, Pre-Raphaelites on Paper: Victorian Drawings from the Lanigan Collection
The drawings are not just unfinished curiosities. They are works of art in themselves, which provide an alternate entrance to the lionized paintings of the Brotherhood. We see how the artists developed their style; breaking with the Royal Academy’s instructions. We know the artists affected medievalism, but they did so even in their drawings. We see detailed and realistic figures in flat light, without foreground or background, rather than the idealised, half-lit compositions that the Academy preferred. These drawings allow us to get at the bare bones of Pre-Raphaelite practice.
The show will feature works from the Brotherhood’s most prominent members, including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Everett Millais, Edward Burne-Jones, Lizzie Siddal and William Morris. The collection comprises studies for some of the movements best-loved works, including Burne-Jones’ Wheel of Fortune, Leighton’s Cymon and Iphigenia and Rossetti’s The Figure of Love. Portraits, religious scenes, landscapes and highly-detailed drawings will also feature in the exhibition.
It is worth going to this exhibition just to see the museum itself. Lord Leighton presided over the late-nineteenth-century art for art’s sake world as President of the Royal Academy. Pay a visit to his magnificent home on Holland Park Road with its unique Leighton House Arab hall, and feast on the magnificence and paradox of a period often stereotyped as stuffy and repressed.
|Pre-Raphaelites on Paper, Leighton House
|Leighton House Museum, 12 Holland Park Rd, London , W14 8LZ | MAP
|Holland Park (underground)
12 Feb 16 – 29 May 16, Open daily except Tuesdays, 10am - 5.30pm
|£10 Adult / £8 concessions / Art Fund £5 / National Trust £5
|Click here for more information