Pre-Raphaelite Drawings

Rarely seen works from National Museums Liverpool's collections

This exhibition has now closed

chalk drawing of a woman's head

National Museums Liverpool's three art galleries, the Lady Lever Art Gallery, Walker Art Gallery and Sudley House, are world famous for their Pre-Raphaelite paintings.

Over the years, we have also collected drawings and watercolours by the Pre-Raphaelites, many of them related to our paintings. These delicate works are normally kept in storage to preserve them from fading.

This former exhibition was a chance to see the best of our Pre-Raphaelite drawings and watercolours. The 35 works in the exhibition included a recent acquisition, Millais's drawing of 'Cymon and Iphigenia', which went on public display at the gallery for the first time.

Drawings and watercolours from the exhibition

You can see the main drawings and watercolours from each section of the exhibition using the links below. Look out for the 'comparison pages', which allow you to directly compare the drawings that were made for paintings in our collections with the finished paintings themselves.

Listen online

You can listen to a podcast of 'John Ruskin' (as played by art historian and actor Dr Paul O'Keeffe) delivering one of his famous lectures on Pre-Raphaelitism, recorded in the exhibition in May 2006.

Things to do at home

Families can download a free exhibition activity sheet and colouring in sheets for aspiring young Pre-Raphaelites.

Further information about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in autumn 1848. It was an informal group of young artists who wished to challenge the established art of the time.

The name Pre-Raphaelite shows the Brotherhood's admiration for a style of art before Raphael and the 'High Renaissance'. Raphael's style dominated art teaching and was much admired in the early Victorian period.

The Brothers felt this had led to an artificial, grandiose style which had lost touch with nature. They wanted art to go back to the freshness, simplicity and genuine feeling of the earlier period. They wanted to bring back seriousness to art, so they chose subjects from poetry, literature and religion which expressed ideas that were important and relevant to them.

You can read more about the movement in our online Pre-Raphaelites feature. There is also detailed information about the leaders of the group, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt.