A Pre-Raphaelite autumn

This week, a new exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite artworks opens at Tate Britain. (Annoyingly, I was offered the chance to go to the press day, but I was working so I couldn’t go. Boo.) It’s a massive exhibition of over 150 works of art by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt, as well as later works by Edward Burne Jones and William Morris.

I think that autumn/winter is the perfect time to see an exhibition of the Pre-Raphaelites; their use of rich, deep colour and the often other-worldiness of their subjects are perfect fodder for gloomy, cold days.

I often find that the colours used are a perfect palette for anything I do that’s remotely autumnal as well- deep berry shades, dark velvety greens and shimmering dark blues are all colours that scream autumn to me. It’s just all so… lovely. I’m never a fan of light, summery colours anyway, so I think this is why the Pre-Raphaelites appeal to me.

Although they’re seen by some as old-hat nowadays, these paintings were utterly rebellious in their day. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) was formed as a reaction to the stifling onslaught of industrial Britain and harked back to a time of mythology and nature- women feature heavily in their works and are often sensual and beautiful. Saying that, I do find that particularly in Rossetti’s work, they can be a bit… overpowering and masculine. A bit like lillies; lovely to look at in small doses but can give you an utter headache if you stare at them for too long!

In celebration of the exhibition starting this week, I’m definitely going to go for PRB inspired nail polish and try and sort my house out to fit William Morris’ view: “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or consider to be beautiful.” I think it’s a good way to gear up for colder weather!

If you want to go to the exhibition, it runs from September 12th-January 14th and tickets cost £14.

If you want to read about the Pre-Raphaelites (and you should- the story is full of scandal, love affairs and, um, a bit of art!) you could do worse than read Franny Moyle’s Desperate Romantics. Which also has a picture of the rather lovely Aidan Turner on the front.

Images: ‘Veronica’ by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and ‘Mariana’ by John Everett Millais are both from Wikipedia. Both images can be seen at the Tate.

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