The Pre-Raphaelite Heavenly Vision

William Morris & Co., Peacock and Dragon fabric (detail) (1878)

January 6 - December 30, 2019    |    Regular Exhibition

The 19th century British Pre-Raphaelite movement was dedicated to restoring the visionary quality of early Medieval art and thought to a Victorian sensibility. Their artworks gushed a cascade of luminous symbols and mythological themes, all rigidly enclosed by a sinuous bounding line. For such refined and transcendental symbolism, look no further than William Morris’s exquisite Peacock and Dragon tapestry, and Edward Burne-Jones’ elegant Portrait of a Young Woman.

The Pre-Raphaelites assimilated Greek myth, the Bible, Romantic literature and Christian martyrology as their primary subject matter. The presented Pre-Raphaelite artworks from our permanent collection also include drawings by Sir William Blake Richmond, Ford Maddox Brown, John William Waterhouse, Sir John Everett Millais, among others.

Curated by Allen Bentley and John Leroux and organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

April 10, 12:15 pm: Curator CrunchPeacocks and Dragons: William Morris’ finest tapestry
This exquisite peacock and dragon pattern textile from 1878 was considered by celebrated designer William Morris as the closest to his vision of an ideal medieval fabric. The Morris & Co. catalogue described it as the “perfect hanging for a medieval castle or mansion”, which is fitting as this particular piece came from the Charles Hosmer residence in Montreal’s Golden Square Mile. This wool tapestry incorporates highly figured imagery derived from classical myth and Romantic symbolism. 

September 28, 12:00- 4:00 pm: Marie Fox: Icons and Allegories – A Pre-Raphaelite WorkshopExplore the vision, techniques and motivation behind the distinct aesthetic of the Pre-Raphaelites. This 4-hour workshop will guide students through the history of this 19th-century movement and provide on-site examples from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s current exhibition The Pre-Raphaelite Heavenly Vision, curated by Allen Bentley and John Leroux. In the spirit of the Pre-Raphaelite era, the final project will combine traditional materials with a surprise, contemporary twist. $60 non-members, $50 members. Registration required.