The Pre-Raphaelites and the Italian Dream

The Pre-Raphaelite movement was founded in 1848 by a group of artists and intellectuals who rejected what they considered “the frivolous art of the day” and embraced a return to greater “truth to nature”.

Until now, they’ve often been overshadowed by their contemporaries, the Impressionists, but recently they’ve been making a comeback: with exhibitions dedicated to the movement and its members in Stuttgart, Stockholm and London in 2009.

Now a major exhibition, The Pre-Raphaelites and the Italian Dream, has opened at MAR, the Museum of Art in the north Italian city of Ravenna. It will run until June before moving to Oxford’s Ashmolean museum in September. Appropriately a joint Anglo-Italian venture, it looks at the connection between the British Pre-Raphaelite movement and the Italian artists – as their name suggests, before Raphael – who inspired them.

I went to the exhibition to talk to two of its curators and began by asking why the Pre-Raphaelites are enjoying this new lease of popularity.

(first broadcast on Arts on the Air, Deutsche Welle Radio, 24th March 2010)

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