Tag Archives: Art

Visions Of Ophelia

I lived with Ophelia for three years in the all-male bastion of Trinity College. She was there to share the highs and lows of my student life – and, if truth be told, to hide a rather ugly damp  patch on one of the walls. I can’t help thinking about my student days whenever I see Millais’ painting which nearly did for model Elizabeth Siddall as she suffered from hypothermia posing in a bath of cold water.

To the Tate Britain yesterday to see the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/pre-raphaelites-victorian-avant-garde. The first impression was one of over-crowding – both of number of attendees – we need another Boris inspired fear of transport meltdown to be able to enjoy exhibitions in splendid isolation – and of exhibits – there just seemed to be too many for the space. The other enduring sensation was that by seeing Pre-Raphaelite en masse and ensemble it lost its power to shock, Their work was radically different but without the point of reference of other contemporary art this sensation was lost.

The Brotherhood was created in September 1848, a time of revolutionary fervour throughout Europe, and they sought to provoke a reaction against the onslaught of industrialisation. Their art is over the top but you can’t help admire their use of colour and draughtmanship.  The pictures are full of vibrancy and unrestrained sexuality. It is not difficult to imagine the sense of shock they inspired amongst the Victorian public.

All the favourites are here in an exhibition which follows the modern trend of displaying the works by themes – there are seven rooms, themed Origins and Manifesto, History, Nature, Salvation, Beauty, Paradise (the Morris aretfacts here were stunning) and Mythologies. Worth a look but I came away wth the feeling you get when you have ingested a very rich cake,