17 November 2010

'The Pre-Raphaelites in Italy' at the Ashmolean

Away from the great South West again, just for a day, driving through frost and fog to Oxford, primarily to visit the Ashmolean Museum.

Rick Mather’s skilful redevelopment of the Ashmolean has provided space for temporary exhibitions on the third floor, their first major show being The Pre-Raphaelites and Italy. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was closely associated with Oxford and many of their works are held in the Ashmolean’s collection or by the colleges. Italy was a central inspiration for the PRB and provides a good subject for this scholarly exhibition, definitely worth seeing before it closes on 5 December. Busy, but not crowded when I went; captioning good by current standards (I recently moaned about this); £6 maximum, guide good value at £4.

Two oddities: John Brett’s Capri in the Evening, lent by a private collection, being last exhibited in 1866; Burne-Jones’ The Tree of Life, lent by the V&A, with an unusual, almost geeky, formatting of some of the details on the frame:


The Ashmolean Dining Room was as described by John Lanchester in the Guardian last month - attempting to select sensibly from the menu items which were actually available had a Carrollian twist.

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