‘Reading Art’: Pre-Raphaelite Painting and Poetry

The Reading Art Project

‘Reading Art’ is a three-month Cultural Engagement project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), organised by Dr Serena Trowbridge, Lecturer in English at BirmiBeata Beatrix (BMAG)ngham City University. The project is based at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG), and will explore the literary aspects of their Pre-Raphaelite collection.
For the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and those associated with them, painting and poetry were sister arts. Many Pre-Raphaelite paintings were inspired by literature, and many poems were written to accompany paintings. The interest in and practice of these intertwining strands is one which was widespread in Pre-Raphaelitism, from Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William
Morris to less well-known figures such as Edward Hughes and Marie Spartali Stillman.

The works in the Birmingham collection indicate this breadth of literary engagement, from Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Beata Beatrix (1877), inspired by Dante’s Vita Nuova, to Edward Hughes’ Night with her Train of…

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  1. You have to love the Brotherhood!! Absolutely true – painting and poetry were sister arts in many eras. But Pre-Raphaelite paintings were PARTICULARLY inspired by literature. In fact I would say the paintings followed the literature, rather than the literature was written to accompany paintings.

  2. I’m sorry to hear that – hope you heal quickly. There will be some online aspects of the project, though, including an online exhibition, so there will be things you can enjoy from a distance!

  3. Yes, absolutely. They had a very literary approach even when not literally painting from literature. I’m very excited about getting stuck into it!

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