The Poetry of Drawing: Pre-Raphaelite Designs, Studies and Watercolours

Those of you living in the UK (or visiting) are in for a real treat this month. From January 29, 2011 to May 15, 2011, The Birmingham Museum is hosting what promises to be “the largest survey of Pre-Raphaelite drawings and watercoulours ever staged.” The museum has assembled works Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery‚Äôs world-class collections, together with important pieces from public and private lenders, including some works by D.G. Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and Edward Burne-Jones that have never previously been exhibited. The exhibit, entitled The Poetry of Drawing, will place special emphasis on the important role that drawing played in the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

The Poetry of Drawing will include pieces from the most prominent members of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, including all the original members of the PRB, Elizabeth Siddal, Edward Burne-Jones, Frederick Sandys and Simeon Solomon. Later artists, such as Aubrey Beardsley, who were influenced by the Brotherhood are also included, as are the Arts and Crafts contributions of William Morris, William de Morgan and Florence Camm.

For those of you who are unable to attend, the exhibition’s curator has created an illustrated volume entitled Pre-Raphaelite Drawing. The book will be published by Thames and Hudson. I would love to see this exhibit in person, but if I don’t get the chance, I will definitely be looking into the catalogue!

For more information and ticket prices, please visit the Birmingham Museum’s exhibition website.

Image above is William Morris’ sketch for his Trellis wallpaper design.

John Knight’s Pre-Raphaelite Photography

Photographer John Knight has a passion for the Pre-Raphaelites (and for vintage and fine art photography in general). Knight’s specialty is the Art Deco period (his studio is actually called Art Deco Studio), but he began his work recreating Pre-Raphaelite images after using two models he felt strongly resembled Jane Morris and Lizzie Siddal. Since then, Knight has recreated a number of iconic Pre-Raphaelite images for modern audiences.


And here we have John Knight’s photographic interpretation of the painting:

Of course, Knight uses a great deal of image editing software in order to reproduce the paintings, but it would be impossible to make them look much like the originals without it.

His interpretation of Frederick Sandy’s “Love’s Shadow” is spectacular, though it shies away from the energy and anger of the original. The girl in Knight’s version is a quite a bit more coy and far less threatening than Sandys’ (who you will recall is actually baring her teeth in the painting).

Knight’s version:

Anthony Frederick Sandys’ version – teeth bared, and looking a bit vicious:

I asked Knight what drew him to Pre-Raphaelite art. He replied that

“the images created by the PRB are amongst the most enduring of all art works ever created. They touch the soul and the heart, they challenge the eye and they transport the viewer back…back to fantasy, to chivalry, to folklore and myth to the stories of our childhood and the dreams of our imagination.”

I couldn’t agree more!

Be sure to check out John Knight’s website for more of his Pre-Raphaelite images. Many are quite extraordinary–I think my favourites are the Venus Verticordia (shown above) and Flaming June.