The pioneering approach of the Pre-Raphaelites, led by artists Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt, was one that looked to the past in hopes of defining a new future for art. Accordingly, it was the artists prior to Raphael that became the essential sourcebook for these mid-19th century painters, both for their techniques and their subject matter. Such is the theme of “Reflections: Van Eyck & The Pre-Raphaelites,” on view at London’s National Gallery until 2 April 2018.
Pairing for the first time in history Netherlandish master Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Double Portrait (1434) with some of the most iconic compositions of the Pre-Raphaelite era, this exhibition reveals just how closely artists like Rossetti and Millais scrutinized the details and compositional effects of earlier artists. From the reflective play of convex mirrors to the rich glazes of color that animate these scenes of Shakespearian lore, Pre-Raphaelite painting is illuminated in this showcase for its impeccable ability to study and respond to their artistic forbearers.
As a prelude to your visit, sink into a study of the sumptuous subtleties of Van Eyck’s paintings with a copy of Van Eyck in Detail or the remarkable richness of Rossetti’s paintings in The Complete Paintings of Gabriel Rossetti, both available on Musebooks.