Reviews

‘The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York

T

Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Henry Treffry Dunn, Lady Lilith, 1867, watercolor and gouache on paper, 20¼" x 17⅜". METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, ROGERS FUND

Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Henry Treffry Dunn, Lady Lilith, 1867, watercolor and gouache on paper, 20¼" x 17⅜".

METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, ROGERS FUND

his compelling exhibition casts a wide net over artists associated with the traditionally marginalized Pre-Raphaelite circle. An opening grouping of sketches and paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, and Edward Burne-Jones highlights the connections among the artists. Rossetti and Brown are two of the three founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) that, piqued by religious and Romantic fervor in mid-19th-century Victorian England, renounced classicism in favor of the flattened mystery of quattrocento painting. Burne-Jones translated this early fervor into a semi-popular success, with works like The Backgammon Players (1861), a furniture chest he painted for William Morris.

The classical subject matter of Frederic, Lord Leighton’s Lachrymae (ca. 1894–95), Morris and Burne-Jones’s stained-glass David, Julia Margaret Cameron’s lush sepia photographs, and Aubrey Beardsley’s magical illustrations demonstrate the breadth of influence of the core members of the brotherhood.

“Masterpieces” of the movement, such as Rossetti’s Beata Beatrix (ca. 1864–95) and William Holman Hunt’s The Light of the World (1853–54), are understandably absent from a show dedicated to the legacy of a movement rather than to its originators. However, the works here happily share the magnetism of their forbears.

A version of this story originally appeared in the October 2014 issue of ARTnews on page 112.

Copyright 2016, Art Media ARTNEWS, llc. 110 Greene Street, 2nd Fl., New York, N.Y. 10012. All rights reserved.


  • Issues