Pre-Raphaelite exhibition kicks off at Tullie House museum

The oldest part of Tullie House museum in Carlisle has reopened to the public today after the coronavirus pandemic forced the doors to close for almost six months.

And with it, comes a new exhibition showcasing a collection of Pre-Raphaelite artwork, which focuses on the changing face of women.

The Pre-raphaelites were a brotherhood of British painters from the 19th century - their work is unique and unmistakable, and often features female models. 

They believed that art should reflect the real world, with the use of abundant detail, intense colours and complex compositions of Italian art from the 15th century. The most recognisable painting can be found in the Tate Modern Museum, named 'Ophelia'.

'Ophelia' Credit: PA

Melanie Gardner, a curator at Tullie House Museum, said: "They wanted to create art that was challenging and different. It's hard to imagine today how revolutionary their ideas and their art was."

Focusing on women - the heartbeat of the movement - Tullie House has carefully selected paintings from their own collection with fascinating stories, rarely told. 

Claire Sleightholm, Assistant Curator at Tullie House, explains how the interpretation has changed:"When I think about what a Pre-Raphaelite work of art is, what comes to mind is an extraordinary looking woman in a complex scene painted in jewel colours. With the new display, we wanted to explore this idea a little more.

Credit: ITV News

"The Pre-Raphaelites: Women in the Picture' explores the ways women made such an impact on this work: from their roles as models, as symbols for morality, as artists themselves and as patrons.

"We're delighted to put these familiar favourites from our Pre-Raphaelite collection back on display, alongside several pieces that have never before been on display.

"Our fresh approach shows that women were the heartbeat of the Pre-Raphaelite movements, and here at Tullie House we shine a light on these fascinating and rarely told stories."

Some of the items on display have a connection to Cumbria. One of the pieces of art was used as template for a stained glass window in St Martin's Church, in Brampton.

Credit: ITV News

The new exhibition also marks the official reopening of the oldest part of the museum - after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to close for more than five months. 

The exhibition is now available, for visitors to discover paintings that changed British art forever. 

  • To find out how to support Tullie House, visit the website.