I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Canberrans are so lucky to have the National Gallery of Australia. It’s one of the best galleries you’ll find anywhere, and we have some of the best special exhibitions.
At the moment, that special exhibition is Love & Desire – a collection of many of the world’s most famous Pre-Raphaelite works, visiting Canberra from all over (but mostly from the Tate Britain) for several months. We went to see it on Sunday, (and then we walked along the lake to the National Library for lunch on the terrace – it’s still really warm, considering it is mid-autumn here, as in summer-dress warm).
Something I didn’t learn until yesterday was how much William Morris stuff the gallery here actually owns.
Also, it was great to see some of the most famous Ballet Russes costumes out of storage and on display on the way in (we had the common sense to buy them all up before anybody else in the world realised their value. Now, if you want to see – say – Nijinsky’s most famous costumes, you have to come to Canberra!).
Here are a few of the famous works in the exhibition:
John William Waterhouse The Lady of Shalott 1888
John Everett Millais Ophelia 1851-52
William Holman Hunt The awakening conscience 1853
(This is supposed to be a Victorian mistress waking up to how she shouldn’t be living in sin!)
Ford Madox Brown The last of England 1864-66
(This is MUCH smaller than I always imagined it!)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti Ecce ancilla domini! (The Annunciation) 1849-50
(This one is amazing and before its time, as it depicts the Virgin Mary being told she will give birth to Jesus as a terrifying moment.)