Where To Find The Pre-Raphaelites In The Regions

By Richard Moss | 01 October 2003
a long painting showing a woman in a courtyard with an angel hovering above her to the right

The Annunciation 1887, watercolour. Edward Coley Burne-Jones. Picture © Norwich Castle Museum and Gallery

Most regions of the UK can lay claim to a local gallery with some examples of Pre-Raphaelite art. It’s a testament to both the artist’s prolific output and the voracious appetite for art in the Victorian and Edwardian periods when many local galleries were established.

This trail collects some of the smaller collections of Pre-Raphaelite art waiting to be discovered in galleries the length and breadth of the UK.

Starting down on the south coast, the Southampton City Art Gallery is home to an impressive collection of major Pre-Raphaelite and related work.

Space constraints mean the drawings, gouaches and paintings are rotated and some may be tucked away at any one time, but a trip here is worthwhile if only to see the stunning Burne-Jones set of ten gouaches for the Perseus Series.

A beautiful group housed permanently in their own wood panelled room - the artist worked on them between 1876-85 with the intention of making a set of oil paintings but only four were ever completed.

a photograph of a wood panelled room with paintings on the walls

A room of one's own...Perseus Series, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1876 - 1888, © 2003 Southampton City Art Gallery

At the wonderful Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in Bournemouth visitors will find a stunning Victorian interior holiding an eclectic period collection strong on Pre-Raphaelite-influenced art, including a Rossetti and works by Sandys, Arthur Hughes and the later classicist Alma-Tadema.

Moving further into the West Country, Torre Abbey in Torquay is a dissolved monastery which was later renovated as a private house and now boasts a sizeable gallery. Here you can view an impressive collection of paintings including a large piece by Holman-Hunt, some Burne-Jones sketches and a couple of paintings by Valentine Cameron Prinsep, an artist who adopted the Pre-Raphaelite fascination with medievalism and helped Rossetti with the Oxford Mural.

A painting showing a Victorian family picknicking in a parkland

The Children's Holiday, William Holman Hunt, 1864. Picture © Torre-Abbey Museum and Gallery.

At City Museum & Art Gallery, Bristol there is an important collection of Victorian Art that includes works by Burne-Jones, and Arthur Hughes. You can also view another painting by Millais, whose rendering of Walter Scott’s The Bride of Lammermoor is typically Victorian in its bludgeoning use of sentiment and drama.

Moving back into the midlands the Art Gallery of the New Walk Museum in Leicester boasts works by Burne-Jones, Frank Edward Dicksee and William Holman Hunt amongst many other Victorian works. Similarly Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery houses Rossetti’s Marigolds amongst other Victorian paintings by GF Watts and John Brett.

shows Burne-Jones, 'The Star of Bethlehem' 1885, tapestry. Picture copyright Norwich Castle Museum and Gallery

Edward Burne-Jones, 'The Star of Bethlehem' 1885, tapestry. © Norwich Castle Museum and Gallery

If you’re in East Anglia at Norwich Castle Museum you’ll find two large scale pieces by Burne-Jones, a Morris and some fine examples of the work of A.F.A. Sandys - a younger and later contemporary of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood who was much influenced by them.

As evidenced by the great collections of Pre-Raphaelite art at Liverpool and Manchester, there was something about Pre-Raphaelite painting that appealed to the Industrial magnates of the North West, which probably accounts for the many examples of Pre-Raphaelite work you can find elsewhere in the region.

The Harris Art Gallery in Preston has an interesting collection of Victorian paintings and is an especially good place to explore the influence of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in late Victorian art. Fans of J.W. Waterhouse may like to take in Cupid's Garden, which features the artist's classically archetypal rendering of the pale and wistful girl.

a painting of a pale woman pushing open the door to a garden

J.W. Waterhouse, Psyche Entering Cupid's Garden. © Harris Museum and Art Gallery, Preston

Tucked away on the outskirts of Burnley, hardy aesthetic adventurers with a penchant for the Pre-Raphaelites will want to check out Towneley Hall Art Gallery and Museum.

This fifteenth century gritstone mansion with its Victorian battlements is home to a compact collection of art that takes in Alma Tadema, Waterhouse and an early study by Burne Jones for his Wheel of Fortune Series.

Staying in Lancashire, , suitably housed in an Arts and Crafts building dating from the 1880’s, also contains a changing selection from an impressive permanent collection that features some Victorian masters.

Similarly, Gallery Oldham is also worth a mention as being home to Rossetti’s Horatio Discovering the Madness of Ophelia as well as a sketch by Millais.

a painting of a woman in a red dress in a golden frame
Goldfish Pool 1861 by Edward Burne-Jones. Courtesy Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery

If you are in Lancashire in search of Pre-Raph treasures then it's worth your while journeying north to Carlisle in Cumbria where you will find a nationally important collection ranging across two galleries at Tullie House .

Situated in the Grade I lsited Old Tullie House the galleries have been newly refurbished for 2011 (opening January 8) and are home to an impressive haul of works by Pre-Raphaelite artists, their heirs and related Arts and Crafts Movement textiles, ceramics, metalwork, furniture and costume.

Highlights include works by founding brother Dante Gabriel Rossetti, his ill-fated wife Elizabeth Siddal, and associates William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Ford Madox Brown.

shows Christ in a carpenters workshop wearing only a cloth around his waist and adopting a crucifix pose that casts a shadow in the wall that a woman bends before and turns to look upon

The Shadow of Death (signed and dated 1870/3) by William Holman Hunt, Oil on Canvas © Leeds Museums and Galleries (City Art Gallery)

Venturing across the Pennines into Yorkshire, at Leeds City Art Gallery there is a large collection of Victorian masters including Leighton’s Return of Persephone, Holman Hunt’s The Shadow of Death and Waterhouse’s famous rendering of the Lady of Shalott.

Bradford's Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, opened in 1904 after a donation to the city by Samuel Cunliffe Lister, is a must for anyone interested in the classical strand in late Victorian art. Highlights of the collection include a piece by Stanhope Forbes and Simeon Solomon’s over the top, gladiatorial epic Habet.

Further south, Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust holds a modestly impressive collection of Pre-Raphaelite works. The collection, which can be seen at the Graves Art Gallery, includes Burne-Jones' quintessential vision of Pre-Raphaelite beauty, The Hours as well as pieces by Millais, Holman Hunt and Arthur Hughes.

shows a study of a peacock feather

Photo: Peacock Feather by John Ruskin © Collection of the Guild of St George, Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust.

Visitors to the city can also view an important collection that sheds some light on the world of the Victorian artist and artisan. Illuminating the life of Pre-Raphaelite champion, artist, writer and critic John Ruskin, the was established in 1875 as resource for the people of Sheffield.

Now housed within the city’s impressive Millennium Gallery, it houses 26 works by the man himself, ranging from sketches and studies after other artists, such as Turner and Carpaccio, to finished original works.

The collection also includes mineral specimens – the very raw material and cornerstone of the Pre-Raphaelite (and Ruskinian) tenet of realism and attention to detail in nature. Ruskin acquired many of these specimens on his European travels and referred to them frequently in his catalogues and handbooks.

When Ruskin set up the museum, he called it the Museum of St George, one of four sites belonging to the wonderfully titled Guild of St George, a body that still exists today to disseminate his views and works.

a painting of an auburn haired woman looking to one side

Frederick Sandys, 'Mary Magdalene' or 'Tears, Idle Tears' 1862, oil on canvas. Picture courtsey Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

The Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle upon Tyne, boasts a strong collection of British oil paintings, watercolours, ceramics, silver and glassware with the Victorian period particularly well represented.

The most important Pre-Raphaelite pictures include Holman Hunt’s Isabella and the Pot of Basil, Arthur Hughes’ Potter’s Courtship and Burne-Jones’ Laus Veneris, a typically large and dominating painting complete with the prerequisite medieval maidens and knights clad in armour.

Heading north up to Aberdeen Art Gallery you'll find an extensive collection of Victorian art including some fine examples of the precursors and descendants of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Among the impressive works by the likes of G.F.Watts and F.W.Waterhouse are some central pieces by Millais, Rossetti and Hughes. Fans of the archetypal Pre-Raphaelite maiden will particularly enjoy yet another Rossetti portrait of Jane Morris - this time as Mariana from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure.

We finish our trail of some of the smaller collections of Pre-Raphaelite art by journeying into Wales to highlight a sizeable and impressive collection. The National Museum and Gallery in Cardiff has a very impressive collection of pieces from the period including works by that holy trinity of Pre-Raphaelite brothers Burne-Jones, Rossetti, and Millais as well as works by Waterhouse and Frank Dicksee.