The latest Tate Britain exhibition has been a little quiet: no one I know has been, no reviews that I’ve spotted but it’s got the Pre Raphaelites, so what’s not to like?
To be honest, there wasn’t much and this one left me a little cold – I even felt weary of seeing the Pre Raphaelite works, which has never happened before. I was struggling to see what connected the works and at times it just seemed to be the case that here was a photograph produced at the time which the artist used to finish off their work, or in the case of Holman Hunt, days of sitting and sketching and then he used the photograph.
I’m being a little flippant here, but given how quiet it was in there on a Saturday lunchtime, either everyone was at Tate Modern for the opening, or the word is out: it’s dull. The other negative note is that a lot belonged to the Tate and I always think it’s a little naughty to put parts of your collection into a paying exhibition in your gallery. Putting Rossetti’s ‘Beata Beatrix’ in there when it is a highlight of your free collection seems a little strange as people would come specifically to see it.
There was one fantastic work that I had not come across before, however, and this would be one I would hang on the wall: John Brett’s Glacier of Rosenlaui.
This was an exquisite work with layers of natural beauty executed with skill and precision but with a dreaminess about it with the misty and cloud filled background.
It reminded me of Caspar David Friedrich with the mountain slowly emerging in the background. The realism of the rock formations was a delightful contrast. Brett was greatly influenced by John Ruskin and you can see how that paid off.
Another bonus was Death of Chatterton. A work that is so familiar from the covers of so many novels:
Couldn’t help feeling that this would look really good next to Millais’s Ophelia.
So, not the best exhibition I’ve been to but you can’t like them all!