Pre-Raphaelites Sisters. The Other Half of British Bohemia
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They defined themselves as a “Pre-Raphaelites Brotherhood” and this already seems to allude to an all-male art. But without the women - artists, muses and models - the revolutionary British painters probably would not have gotten very far at all. For the first time, an exhibition explores the other half of this movement from the 1800s, presenting the public with celebrated works and rarities which are still mostly unknown from public and private collections throughout the world. A 160 years from the birth of this legendary fraternity, paintings, photos, manuscripts and personal objects are ready to tell visitors to the National Portrait Gallery stories that have been silenced for too long. Such as that of Jamaican Fanny Eaton, daughter of former slaves, who came to London at an early age and posed for John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, or of Effie Gray, who left John Ruskin Millais and, becoming his manager, was forced to abandon her own ambitions of becoming a painter. Then, there’s Joanna Wells, a talented artist whose works seem to have been cancelled from the history of the movement - almost. There are twelve sisters to meet throughout the itinerary and numerous surprises, also in thanks to very recent discoveries. Somewhere between the poetry of art and the unavoidable limits of Victorian society, their lives seem to say - the Pre-Raphaelites? Unconventional - up to a certain point.