One of the must-see exhibitions in 2023
Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Paolo and Francesca da Rimini (1855)© Tate
Tate Britain, London, 6 April - 24 September
The glowing visions of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his Pre-Raphaelite brethren are familiar enough to art gallery visitors across the UK, and elsewhere; their fraught emotional lives even made it on to mainstream television in the 2009 BBC series Desperate Romantics.
Tate Britain’s forthcoming exhibition—perhaps unconsciously—picks up where the TV show leaves off, putting its focus on the Rossettis as a family, and their convoluted entanglements with the likes of Jane and William Morris, for the first time.
Around 90 works by Dante Gabriel Rossetti will go on show in the artist’s first ever retrospective at the Tate, which already holds many of his most famous paintings, including The Annunciation(1849-50),Beata Beatrix (1864-70) and Proserpine(1874).
The latter is due to be reunited with The Blessed Damozel (1879) and Mnemosyne (1881) in a recreation of the triptych of “stunners” put together in the drawing room of Rossetti’s early collector, Frederick Leyland. Dante’s sister Christina—the celebrated writer of Goblin Market and In the Bleak Midwinter, as well as the model for The Annunciation—will be represented by recordings of her poetry, while another sibling, William, wrote the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’s original manifesto.
But the Tate’s real coup is the first full showing of the decade’s worth of work by Elizabeth Siddal, famously the model for John Everett Millais’s Ophelia (1851-52)and a subsequent string of paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, whom she was eventually to marry. Siddal began painting in the 1850s and, sponsored by the critic John Ruskin, worked steadily before her death in 1862. Siddal’s oeuvre is slim—around 30 works—but will be fascinating to see all together.