The Walker Art Gallery will display more than 120 paintings by leading Pre-Raphaelite artists as part of a major new exhibition, Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion, which runs from 12 February to 5 June 2016.
National Museums Liverpool has worked with one of the world’s leading Pre-Raphaelite experts, Christopher Newall, to produce an exhibition which reveals, through some of the most enduring and popular works of the period, how the northern art scene rivalled London in Victorian England.
Paintings on loan from institutions and private collections across the UK will feature alongside key pieces from National Museums Liverpool’s own collections. Many of the privately owned works have never been on public display before.
Christopher Newall, curator of the exhibition, said:
“Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion will reveal, for the very first time, how the city of Liverpool influenced a movement that would change the course of British art in the 19th century.
“The support of the city of Liverpool was invaluable in establishing and positioning Pre-Raphaelitism within the Victorian art world. This exhibition will explore different aspects of patronage, art politics and of the careers of the artists who lived in Liverpool in a way that no exhibition has previously done.”
Through renowned works by Pre-Raphaelite masters including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, the exhibition will explore the significance of the Liverpool Academy and the city’s Autumn Exhibitions, which enabled the movement to flourish.
The exhibition will also introduce the collectors who were both friends and supporters of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Collectors such as John Miller, Frederick Richards Leyland and George and Julia Rae enabled these revolutionary painters to change the face of British art in the 19th century.
In addition to exploring some of the subject matter traditionally associated with Pre-Raphaelite paintings, including portraiture, religion and mythology, the exhibition will showcase a number of works depicting scenes of rural life and recognisable British landscapes, notably those by Liverpool painters including William Davis, James Campbell and William JJC Bond.
Accompanied by a full-colour 128-page catalogue, the exhibition also presents fascinating new research into Liverpool artist John Ingle Lee and renowned collector John Miller, through the legacy of the glorious artworks they left behind.
Ann Bukantas, Head of Fine Art at National Museums Liverpool, said:
“The collector John Miller has always been central to the Pre-Raphaelite story, as a friend and patron of many of the artists, especially Ford Madox Brown and, in Liverpool, William Davis.
“We have new information about Miller’s background, and the business dealings that enabled him to collect paintings – and sometimes forced him to sell them. We have also uncovered much more about the admired Liverpool artist John Ingle Lee, revealing new details about his life and death, and the previously underestimated extent of his artistic output.”
Sandra Penketh, Director of Art Galleries at National Museums Liverpool, said:
“It’s so exciting to see this wonderful exhibition come to fruition. For many years, we’ve planned to tell the story of the Pre-Raphaelites through a Liverpool lens and, with the help of Christopher Newall’s expertise, Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion achieves this.
“As part of the exhibition, we look forward to welcoming Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces from across the UK to the Walker, which houses a world-renowned collection of its own. The Pre-Raphaelite movement is an incredibly appealing one and we’re sure that our visitors will love the exhibition and be fascinated by the new stories it reveals.”
Tickets for Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion are available to purchase online, priced at £7 for adults and £5 for concessions, or on the day at the Walker Art Gallery. The exhibition is free to anyone aged 18 and under and discounted tickets are available for existing members of National Museums Liverpool and other selected groups.
New members can enjoy their first entry into the exhibition for free. For further information, and to purchase tickets or become a member of National Museums Liverpool, visit: www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/preraphaelites
The development of the Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion exhibition was supported in part by a Jonathan Ruffer Curatorial Research Grant from the Art Fund.
The exhibition catalogue has been made possible by the generous support of: Sotheby’s, Mr and Mrs Christopher Gridley, Mr Peter Woods and Mr Francis Ryan.
The provision of insurance for the exhibition is provided through the Government Indemnity Scheme, arranged by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England.
About the Walker Art Gallery
The Walker Art Gallery has housed an internationally-renowned collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative art within its impressive, neo-classical walls for almost 140 years. From Medieval and Renaissance masterpieces to an outstanding collection of modern and contemporary works, it is one of Europe’s finest galleries. Visitors can see paintings by 17th and 18th century masters including Poussin, Rembrandt and Gainsborough, before taking in the Walker’s famed Pre-Raphaelite collection. The Impressionist works are not-to-be-missed, while some of the greatest British artists of the last century are represented in the contemporary galleries, from Lucian Freud to David Hockney. Younger visitors will love Big Art for Little Artists, a gallery designed to introduce children to art in a fun and interactive way.
About National Museums Liverpool
National Museums Liverpool comprises eight venues. Our collections are among the most important and varied in Europe and contain everything from Impressionist paintings and rare beetles to a lifejacket from the Titanic.
We attract almost 2.7 million visitors every year. Our venues are the International Slavery Museum, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Merseyside Maritime Museum, Museum of Liverpool, Sudley House, Border Force National Museum (Seized! The Border and Customs Uncovered), Walker Art Gallery and World Museum.