Friday, March 12, 2010
The Pre-Raphaelites and Italy at Ashmolean Museum
The Ashmolean will inaugurate the major new exhibition programme with a show dedicated to the Pre-Raphaelites in Italy in the four new temporary exhibition galleries.
Italy, its landscape, literature, art, and history, was a central reference point for the movement known as Pre-Raphaelitism in the 1850s and 1860s. The exhibition will explore the Pre-Raphaelites’ interest in Italian literature and landscape for the first time. Of the original members of the Brotherhood, Dante Gabriel Rossetti was the son of an Italian refugee and spoke fluent Italian, but never visited Italy. Nevertheless, he found one of his principal sources of inspiration in the writings of Dante Alighieri, and made a magnificent series of watercolours and oils illustrating key episodes in the Divine Comedy. Later, Burne-Jones and other artists made illustrations of Italian writers. Other members of the Brotherhood, notably William Holman Hunt, followed explicitly John Ruskin’s injunction to study nature closely. Ruskin’s influence was felt by a group of artists who represented not only the Italian landscape, but also architecture and paintings, with extraordinary fidelity. The exhibition will include cartoons and preparatory drawings for this project, which have never been exhibited before in England.
Wed 15 Sep 2010 - Sun 5 Dec 2010