Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters

Exhibition Website

Jun 30 2018 - Sep 30 2018

Premiering at the Legion of Honor, Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters is the first major international exhibition to juxtapose works by England’s nineteenth-century Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with those that directly inspired its members: Italian and Netherlandish art that predated the High Renaissance. The exhibition will demonstrate the Pre-Raphaelites’ fascination with the Italian old masters, including Fra Angelico and Pietro Perugino and their northern contemporaries, such as Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling.

The exhibition will trace the Pre-Raphaelite circle’s “rediscovery” of Sandro Botticelli. It will also explore how the second generation of Pre-Raphaelites’ tempera revival practices were influenced by Raphael and artists of the late Renaissance, such as Titian and Veronese. Major loans of famous Renaissance paintings from collections in Italy, Austria, and the United Kingdom, will illustrate these artistic affinities for the Legion of Honor’s audiences.

The Pre-Raphaelites’ attraction to the art of the past was not limited to paintings; they were also fascinated by decorative arts and tapestries. The presentation will also make connections between sixteenth- and nineteenth-century textiles and stained glass in a rich multimedia experience.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.

Whether or not you can go, Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters examines the inspiration behind the work of the Pre-Raphaelites. This dazzling book offers comparisons between the radical 19th-century artists and the masterworks they revered.

Started in the early 19th century by a group of British painters who rejected the sovereignty of the Royal Academy, the Pre-Raphaelites embraced the natural world and bright colors--as opposed to the dark palettes and amorphous lines that emerged in the wake of the Renaissance. Their mission was to be fundamentally modern by emulating the past. Now readers can appreciate their achievements in this volume that offers side-by-side comparisons of 19th-century masterpieces with the 15th- and 16th-century Early Italian and Early Netherlandish paintings that inspired them. Exquisite reproductions of works by Giotto, Fra Angelico, van Eyck, Botticelli, Titian, Veronese, and Raphael are presented alongside examples by William Holman Hunt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and others. The book traces the evolution of the Pre-Raphaelites, and details how these painters were exposed to the early masters as they traveled and encountered the finest European collections. The volume also features decorative arts, including stained glass and tapestries in emulation of Flemish and French textiles as well as "medievalized" ecclesiastic decorations. The result is an illuminating examination that delves into the Pre-Raphaelites' aesthetic vocabulary and broadens our understanding of their motives and inspiration.

Add this book to your library: Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters

  • Various Media
  • European
  • 19th Century
  • William Holman Hunt
  • John Everett Millais
  • Dante Gabriel Rossetti
  • Fra Angelico
  • Pietro Perugino
  • Jan van Eyck
  • Hans Memling
  • and others

Exhibition Venues & Dates