An unprecedented selection of paintings, works on paper, and decorative arts—many never shown outside the UK—by three generations of revolutionary British artists and designers.
The American Federation of Arts is pleased to present the exhibition Victorian Radicals: From the Pre-Raphaelites to the Arts & Crafts Movement, a project created in collaboration with Birmingham Museums Trust. The exhibition, drawn from the collection of the city of Birmingham, United Kingdom, focuses on three generations of young and rebellious artists and designers whose response to the increasingly industrial world around them revolutionized the arts in Britain.
In the second half of the nineteenth century, three generations of young, rebellious artists and designers revolutionized the visual arts in Britain, engaging with and challenging the new industrial world around them. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, William Morris and his associates, and the champions of the Arts & Crafts Movement offered a radical artistic and social vision that found inspiration in the pre-industrial past and came to decisively influence visual culture in Britain and beyond. Drawn from the outstanding collection of the city of Birmingham, United Kingdom, Victorian Radicals will, for the first time, bring together paintings, works on paper, and decorative arts—many never shown outside the UK—to illuminate this most dynamic period of British art in an exhibition of unparalleled historical and visual richness.
Through approximately 145 objects by pioneering artists including Ford Madox Brown, Edward Burne-Jones, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Elizabeth Siddall, among others, Victorian Radicals will represent the spectrum of avant-garde practices of the Victorian period, emphasizing the response of Britain’s first modern art movements to unfettered industrialization. These artists’ attention to detail, use of vibrant colors, and engagement with both literary themes and contemporary life will be illustrated through a selection of paintings, drawings, and watercolors presented alongside superb examples of decorative art.
Caring for the largest Pre-Raphaelite collection in the world and with extraordinarily rich holdings of Victorian fine and decorative art, Birmingham Museums Trust is uniquely positioned to tell the story of the Pre-Raphaelites and other foundational artistic movements of the modern era.
The exhibition will explore the ideas that preoccupied artists and critics at the time—the relationship between art and nature; questions of class and gender identity; the value of the handmade versus machine production; and the search for beauty in an age of industry—issues that remain relevant and actively debated today.
Victorian Radicals will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with contributions from the exhibition’s curatorial team, who will present new scholarship on Birmingham’s collection and its wider contexts.