Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters

June 30, 2018September 30, 2018

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 Titian and Veronese. It also offers a rich multimedia opportunity to examine the artists’ attraction to stained glass, domestic decorations, and sixteenth-century textiles. 


Image: John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, Love and the Maiden, 1877. Tempera, gold paint, and gold leaf on canvas, 54 x 79 in. (137.2 x 200.7 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum purchase, European Art Trust Fund, Grover A. Magnin Bequest Fund, and Dorothy Spreckels Munn Bequest Fund, 2002.176


This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Presenting Sponsors
John A. and Cynthia Fry Gunn
Diane B. Wilsey

Curator’s Circle
San Francisco Auxiliary of the Fine Arts Museums
Barbara A. Wolfe

Patron’s Circle
Ric and Suzanne Kayne
David A. Wollenberg

The catalogue is published with the assistance of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Endowment for Publications.