The last 2 exhibits we saw -- “Warhol: Headlines” (the NGA's first exhibit dedicated solely to Andy Warhol from September 25, 2011 – January 2, 2012) and the Roy Lichstenstein retrospective (October 14, 2012 – January 13, 2013) -- had interesting pieces, especially some of the more famous ones.
But as a whole, those exhibits weren't as engaging as this one, which was organized by Tate Britain in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.
The first major survey of the art of the Pre-Raphaelites to be shown in the United States features some 130 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and decorative art objects. The young members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, formed in 1848, shook the art world of mid-19th-century Britain by rejecting traditional approaches to painting. Combining scientific precision, an innovative approach to subject matter, and brilliant, clear colors, Pre-Raphaelitism was Britain's first avant-garde art movement.
They had a “commitment to fundamental change,” art historians, Tim Barringer of Yale and Jason Rosenfeld of Merrymount Manhattan College, write in the exhibition’s book. They wanted to break with the conventional styles of the Royal Academy established in 1768 by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
“They believed that art had become decadent, and rejected their teacher’s belief that the Italian artist Raphael represented the high point of aesthetic achievement,” said Diane Waggoner, associate curator of the National Gallery.
“Instead they looked to earlier art from before the time of Raphael — or ‘pre-Raphael’ — whose bright colors, flat surfaces, and sincerity they admired.”
The young painters, between 18 and 22, looked “to history and to literature for inspiration,” taken from the writings of Dante, Shakespeare and the Bible.
Oil on Canvas
by Ford Madox Brown
Source: Fine Art Connoisseur
by John Everett Millais
"Her clothes spread wide,
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up."
But eventually ...
"her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay"
"to muddy death."
Ophelia's death has been praised as one of the most poetically written death scenes in literature.