Desired Beauty, the first comprehensive exhibition in Hungary displaying close to one hundred masterpieces from the unrivalled Pre-Raphaelite collection of Tate Britain, is on view at the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest from May 13 through August 22.
The works of the Pre-Raphaelites, the artists of the most influential British art movement in the nineteenth century, occupy a prominent place in the collection of Tate Britain, which holds the national collection of British art after 1500. This exhibition is accompanied by The Beauty of Utopia – Pre-Raphaelite influences in the Art of Turn-of-the-century Hungary, also at the National Gallery, showcasing the impact of the movement in Hungary.
According to the Gallery, visitors to the first comprehensive exhibition in Hungary on the Pre-Raphaelite movement can view almost forty paintings and more than fifty graphic works from the world-renowned Pre-Raphaelite collection of Tate Britain in London. The exhibited masterpieces include Ecce Ancilla Domini! (Annunciation) and Monna Vanna by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the founder of the movement, The Order of Release 1746, painted by John Everett Millais in 1852–1853 and The Lady of Shalott (1888) by John William Waterhouse. One of Rossetti’s cardinal pieces, The Day Dream, a Pre-Raphaelite work of iconic beauty, was loaned to the National Gallery by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The seven-member Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (P. R. B.) was founded in 1848 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt in revolt against the Royal Academy’s conservative educational principles. As the choice of the group’s name also suggests, its members regarded medieval and early Renaissance art, predating Raphael, as their model. Embracing the theories of John Ruskin – a prominent art critic and social philosopher of the period, and later their patron – the young Pre-Raphaelites made an attempt at a thematic and stylistic renewal of painting in their depictions of nature as well as their works inspired by the Bible, historical events, literature, and addressing social issues.
Following the break-up of the group in 1853, Rossetti became the leading figure of the second phase of Pre-Raphaelite art, and his aesthetic movement exerted great influence across Europe. Joined by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, he looked for connections between the fine arts, poetry, and music and under the spell of the cult of beauty, sought to demolish the borderlines between genres. Opposed to the soul-destroying, mechanised world and mass production of the industrial revolution, Morris advocated the importance of building aesthetic environments and reviving handicraft traditions. He initiated the total art movement of Arts and Crafts, extending to the various branches of fine and applied arts.
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