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Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at the Tate Britain until January 2013

A comprehensive collection of the Pre-Raphaelites is on offer at Tate Britain until the 13th January 2013. For those who aren’t familiar with the term, it does not refer to artists who came before Raphael, but to a small group who rebelled against what they saw as ‘academic’ art that presumably began with Raphael. They called themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, PRB, and they produced some remarkable works.

There are varying schools of thought, as always when it comes to art appreciation, about the impact of the PRB on the art world in general. This is not a collection to zip through in an hour; one needs to go slowly, one piece at a time, in order to absorb the detail and complexity of these paintings, and indeed to interpret the version of reality the artists were trying to capture and send.

The core group of the Brotherhood was formed in the late 1840s by a handful of artists including

William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and others whose works are on display in the form of paintings, drawings and sculpture. In this case their art is also translated into wallpaper, bedspreads and even ‘fridge magnets for take-home purchase.

A sample of the most impressive (and most famous) works includes Work, by Ford Madox Brown, a social commentary on Victorian England, and Ophelia, by John Everett Millais. Interestingly, another of Millais’s contributions, Isabella, has revealed previously unnoticed details to those who scrutinize these things. Viewers are invited to observe the shadow of a nutcracker and draw their own conclusions; Isabella is the first painting they will see on entering the exhibition.

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