PREVIEW: Reflections: Van Eyke and the Pre-Raphaelites, National Gallery

From the 2nd October, the National Gallery will present an exhibition that examines how Van Eyke’s Arnolfini Portrait helped to shape the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’s work. 

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Portrait of a man (self portrait?) Jan van Eyke, 1433. (c) National Gallery, London.

Having been acquired by the National Gallery in 1842, Van Eyke’s Arnolfini Portrait will be exhibited as part of a brand new exhibition at the gallery to explore the way in which young British artists of the 19th century responded to the painting and one of its most distinctive features, the convex mirror.

Reflections will also feature loans from the Tate’s Pre-Raphaelite collection, such as  Sir John Everett Millais’s Mariana (1851), Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s The Girlhood of Mary Virgin (1848–9), William Holman Hunt’s The Awakening Conscience (1853), and William Morris’s La Belle Iseult (1858).

This exhibition is co-curated by  Susan Foister, Deputy Director and Curator of Early Netherlandish, German, and British Paintings at the National Gallery and Alison Smith, Lead Curator of British Art to 1900 at Tate and will feature not only paintings but a wide range of objects including one of the convex mirrors owned by Rossetti, early photographs , drawings, archival exhibits surrounding the acquisition of the Arnolfini Portrait.

Director of the National Gallery, Gabriele Finaldi says, “Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait had a mesmerising effect on the young Pre-Raphaelites who saw it at the National Gallery. Fascinated by its truth to nature and its elegant symbolism, they brought about a revolution in British painting.”

Highlights of the exhibition includes Hunt’s Awakening Conscience (1853, Tate), Rossetti’s Lucrezia Borgia (1860–1, Tate) and Holman Hunt’s Il Dolce far Niente (1866, Private Collection).

Reflections: Van Eyke and the Pre-Raphaelites will be on display at the National Gallery from the 2nd October until the 2nd April 2018. For more information visit:

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