Now we all know about the Pre Raphelites – mad sex crazed 1860’s loons who were instrumental in creating a lot of the faux medieval of the Victorian era. They were also damn good artists as the current exhibition of drawings at the Art Gallery of New South Wales shows.
In the main the drawings come from the collection of Birmingham Art Gallery – strange that all the time I lived in England and travelled to Birmingham for meetings I never thought to visit the gallery, but there you go.
The exhibition is cleverly put together, with sketches and preliminary drawings, including some of those for Ophelia, and a couple of finished paintings to show how the sketches translated into the finished works.
It shows that they were all good draughtsmen, with sometimes a little wit, and incredible attention to detail. What I found intriguing was a set of four doodles from a sketch book, which I’m sure were rough copies of illustrations from a medieval manuscript. Like a loon I can’t remember now who or what, should have written them down at the time. (actually it was from the Ladies and Animals sideboard by Edward Burne-Jones. Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery have done a sterling job by putting their collection online at www.preraphaelites.org)
However, all in all a nice little exhibition and worth the trip to Sydney (or Birmingham).