'Inspired' at the Guildhall Art Gallery

January 26 2022

Image of 'Inspired' at the Guildhall Art Gallery

Picture: Guildhall Art Gallery

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Guildhall Art Gallery in London will be opening their latest exhibition in April. Inspired: Art inspired by theatre, literature and music seems to do exactly what is says on the tin, bringing together a fine selection of works from (mostly) the nineteenth-century that explores these themes.

According to their press release:

Inspired: Art inspired by theatre, literature and music will explore the relationship between poetry, plays, novels and music with the visual arts.

Novels were increasingly popular during the 19th century and, in reaction to Industrialisation, many Victorians valued nostalgic and Romantic novels and poetry, looking to Shakespeare’s  history plays, Tennyson’s poems, medieval folktales and Greek myths. This was reflected in  much of the art of the time, and Guildhall Art Gallery dives into its renowned 19th century collections to explore the dialogue between art and literature. Inspired goes even deeper to  look at how theatre and music were additional sources of inspiration for Victorian artists.  Visitors will see the influence of theatre in pieces like John Philip Kemble as Coriolanus by Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830). Painter, draughtsman and President of the Royal Academy, Lawrence was taught by his father to recite passages from Pope, Collins, Milton and  Shakespeare to his customers. Lawrence’s portrait of British actor John Philip Kemble (1757- 1823), depicting him blanketed in shadows, revels in the theatricality that Shakespearean tragedy affords. Meanwhile, pivotal moments in theatre history, such as the burning of Drury Lane, are captured on the canvas in Old Drury Lane on fire, London 24 February 1809 by Abraham Pether. 

Lovers of Pre-Raphaelite art will be able to see pieces by celebrated names, including William  Holman Hunt (1827-1910), John Everett Millais (1829-1896) and George Frederic Watts (1817- 1904). The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood cherished the Romantic poets and the writings of John  Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle, according to whom the world itself should be read as a system of  visual signs. The artists kept a list of ‘heroes’ that epitomised greatness, including Keats, and  carried their inspiration in paintings with great attention to detail, vivid colour and elaborate  symbolism.

The exhibition will run from 8th April 2022 - 11th September 2022.

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