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The Poetry of Drawing

Subscribe to RSS RSSFriday, 28th January, 2011

The Poetry of Drawing: UK exclusive of largest ever show of Pre-Raphaelite drawings and watercolours

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery will be the sole UK venue for a major exhibition The Poetry of Drawing (Gas Hall, 29 January ? 15 May 2011), the most comprehensive survey of Pre-Raphaelite drawings and watercolours ever staged.

The Poetry of Drawing brings together works from Birmingham?s world-class collections of Pre-Raphaelite and later nineteenth-century art, some of them rarely seen, alongside key loans from public and private lenders.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of radical young artists who banded together in London in 1848, revolutionised British art. This exhibition explores the vital role played by drawing and design in the work of the Brotherhood, their associates and followers. It includes watercolours as well as works in pen and ink and pencil, and stained glass, textiles and ceramics alongside their original designs. Through the portraits and caricatures the artists made of one another and often exchanged as gifts, the drawings also provide an insight into the Pre-Raphaelites? relationships with their fellow artists, friends and lovers.

One of the most striking works in the exhibition is Rossetti?s brooding Mnemosyne (1876, private collection), which is being displayed for the first time. This large-scale pastel is a study for a painting of Mnemosyne, the personification of Memory in Greek mythology. It depicts Jane Morris, wife of the designer William Morris and Rossetti?s most important muse in the last decade of his life.  The drawing remained in Rossetti?s studio until his death and has been in a private collection ever since.

The exhibition includes the earliest appearances in Pre-Raphaelite art of the Brotherhood?s most famous model, the red-haired Elizabeth Siddal, in drawings by Rossetti, Holman Hunt and Walter Howell Deverell. Also on display are two studies by Millais for for Ophelia (1852, Tate), the painting for which Siddal famously posed lying in a bath of water. In the exhibition his iconic drawing for the head of Ophelia (1852) from Birmingham?s collection is reunited with a finished compositional study in ink for the whole painting (1852, Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery) for the first time. Two watercolours by Siddal are also displayed, representing her role in Pre-Raphaelitism as a gifted artist as well as a model and muse.

This wide-ranging exhibition includes work by the original members of the Brotherhood, including Rossetti, Millais, and Holman Hunt; their mentor, John Ruskin; and the ?second generation? of Pre-Raphaelites such as Edward Burne-Jones, Frederick Sandys and Simeon Solomon.  It also demonstrates for the first time the impact that Pre-Raphaelite drawing had upon turn-of-the-century British art movements such as Aestheticism, Symbolism and Art Nouveau, displaying work by later artists influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, such as Aubrey Beardsley.

The Poetry of Drawing gives an insight into how the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood challenged the art establishment of the time and influenced subsequent artists and designers.  There will be a rare chance to compare textiles, stained glass and ceramics by makers such as William Morris, William de Morgan and Florence Camm with their original drawings, and the opportunity to see watercolours and drawings never seen in public before, including significant examples by Rossetti, Arthur Hughes and Burne-Jones.

While drawing is often regarded as being secondary to painting, this exhibition will explore how for the Pre-Raphaelites it was central to the activity of making art.

After its showing in Birmingham the exhibition will tour to The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (17 June ? 4 September 2011).

Tickets for The Poetry of Drawing are £6 adults, £5 senior citizens and students, £2 income support/unwaged and children 5-16, £12 family (up to 2 adults, 2 children); under 5s admitted free.   For booking further information please visit or call 0121 303 1966.

If you?re from out of town and want to fully appreciate Poetry Of Drawing you can get special discounted rate for bed & breakfast at Hotel du Vin or Malmaison. Call reservations on 0845 365 4247and quote "TIMES BIRMINGHAM"