I finally went to the Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde exhibition at Tate Britain (half price with my National Art Pass whoop!). It is a fantastic collection, with paintings, books, sculptures, carpets and even a bed on display.
Never just a pretty face, the Tate Britain gave us a history lesson as well:
“They believed that art had become decadent, and rejected their teachers’ belief that the Italian artist Raphael (1483–1520) represented the pinnacle of aesthetic achievement. They looked to earlier art whose bright colours, flat surfaces and truth to nature they admired.
But rather than imitate the early masters, they espoused a rule-breaking originality. Whether painting subjects from Shakespeare, the Bible, landscapes of the Alps or the view from a window, the Pre-Raphaelites brought a new beauty and intensity of vision to British art.”
You have to love the Victorian era – women wore bustles and rebels used paintbrushes.
What I found remarkable was how standard the paintings were. I don’t mean that in a negative way, it just that for me they are the the first style that comes to mind when I think of the word ‘painting’.
If you asked a kid what they were actually trying to draw with their crayons – I think the pre-raphaelite bright colours the realism and the drama is what they were imagining.
The other thing I noticed? The artists had a soft spot for a flame haired lady…