The romance of beauty: ‘Love & Desire’ exhibition at National Gallery of Australia
February 18, 2019
In January I had the pleasure of visiting the National Gallery in Canberra for the exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite Masterpieces from the Tate. The exhibition is on until the end of April 2019 and if you haven’t seen it yet, I’d encourage a visit to Canberra (if you don’t live too far away, that is.) It’s a beautiful experience.
I was somewhat vague about this group of artists, who produced their works in the nineteenth century. I’d expected images of beautiful women in flowing robes, flowers floating on lakes, Biblical stories and medieval legends brought to life. I found all those things, and more. Incredibly accurate representations of nature in landscapes, alongside detailed scenes of everyday life of the times. Portraits, works about tragedy and love, goddesses and strong, powerful women, and – most surprising of all to me – the works of William Morris of the ‘Arts and Crafts’ movement.
So much colour and romance, so many powerful stories. For a small group of artists working (as many do) in relative poverty and obscurity, the Pre-Raphaelites produced work that packed a solid artistic and cultural punch.
It reminded me that stories aren’t always told in words alone. Colour, shapes, images, rhythm, music – these are all ways to tell stories.
If you’ve seen the exhibition in Canberra, or been lucky enough to see the works at the Tate or elsewhere, let me know in the comments below.