Manchester Art Gallery has an important collection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings that were bought on behalf of Manchester’s citizens by the Gallery’s Victorian predecessors. They have embarked on a year-long project called the Pre-Raphaelite Experiment to find our what, if anything, these paintings mean to today’s Mancunians.
The Gallery is working with local groups, families and schools to respond to and reinterpret four Pre-Raphaelite paintings from their collection. They are, James Collinson’s Answering the Emigrant’s Letter (1850) , Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Bower Meadow (1850-1872) , Sir John Everett Millais’ Autumn Leaves (1856), and William Holman Hunt’s The Hireling Shepherd (1851). Chosen because they represent three recurring themes in Pre-Raphaelite art: nature, storytelling and modern life.
These four paintings are now hanging in Gallery 6, one of the Victorian Galleries, which has been cleared of all its other artworks. Along with them, there’s a space for visitors to tell the Gallery what they think of the Pre-Raphaelites in general and the four chosen works in particular.
As the Pre-Raphaelite Experiment progresses over the next year, the display in the Gallery 6 will evolve, and they’ll be blogging about what they discover.