Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters - Legion of Honor Museum



History of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor Museum

In 1915 Alma Spreckels fell in love with the French Pavilion at San Francisco’s Panama Pacific International Exposition. This pavilion was a replica of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, one of the distinguished 18th-century landmarks on the left bank of the Seine. The Hôtel de Salm, as it was first called, was designed by Pierre Rousseau in 1782 for the Prince of Salm-Krybourg. Completed in 1788, it was not destined to serve long as a royal residence; the German prince, whose fortunes fell with the French Revolution, lived there only one year. Madame de Staël owned it briefly before Napoleon took it over in 1804 as the home of his newly established Légion d’Honneur, the order he created as a reward for civil and military merit.

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Overview of the Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters Exhibit

In 1848—a year of political revolution across Europe—seven young Englishmen formed an artistic alliance aspiring to rebel against the contemporary Victorian art world. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, including William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, defied idealized figures popularized by Raphael and other High Renaissance artists to reflect the simplicity, spirituality, and beauty they found in late medieval and early Renaissance art. Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters is the first major exhibition to juxtapose examples by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with works that inspired its members, including Italian old masters Fra Angelico and Pietro Perugino and their Northern contemporaries Jan van Eyck and Hans Memling. It reveals how the Brotherhood’s aesthetic evolved over time to embrace artistic influences from the High and late Renaissance, such as Botticelli, Raphael, Titian, and Veronese. It also offers a rich multimedia opportunity to examine the artists’ attraction to stained glass, domestic decorations, and sixteenth-century textiles.

Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters is the first major international loan exhibition to assemble works of art by members of England’s nineteenth-century Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with the early Italian, Netherlandish, and German art that inspired them. Organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, this presentation will demonstrate the Pre-Raphaelites’ fascination with the Italian old masters, including Fra Angelico (ca. 1400–1455) and Pietro Perugino (ca. 1450­–1523), and their northern contemporaries such as Jan van Eyck (ca. 1390–1441) and Hans Memling (1430/1440–1494). Truth and Beauty will trace the Brotherhood through the nineteenth-century “rediscovery” of Sandro Botticelli (1444 or 1445–1510) by the English art critics John Ruskin (1819–1900) and Walter Pater (1839–1894), which paralleled the tempera-paint revival executed by the second-generation Pre-Raphaelites. The visual affinities between these works will create evocative juxtapositions that will also demonstrate the influence of High Renaissance painter Raphael (1483–1520) and artists of the late Renaissance, such as Titian (ca. 1488–1576) and Paolo Veronese (1528–1588), on the Pre-Raphaelites and select contemporaries.



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Created on: 2018.07.10
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Updated on: 2018.07.11