NEWS: Guildhall Art Gallery Announces New Exhibition Inspired: Art Inspired by Theatre, Literature and Music

The new exhibition will go on display at the gallery from the 8th April until the 11th September.

(c)Guildhall Art Gallery

The Guildhall Art Gallery has announced details of its upcoming exhibition that will be examining the ways in which visual artists have taken inspiration from the literary arts. Through Inspired: Art Inspired by Literature, Theatre and Music, the gallery will explore the relationship between poetry, plays, novels and music with the visual arts.

With novels proving to be increasingly popular during the 19th century, many Victorians valued nostalgic and Romantic novels and poetry, looking to Shakespeare’s
history plays, Tennyson’s poems, medieval folktales and Greek myths. This was reflected in much of the art of the time, and so the Guldhall Art Gallery will delve into its collection to explore the dialogue between art and literature.

Elsewhere, the exhibition will also allow visitors to see the influence of theatre in pieces like John Philip Kemble as Coriolanus by Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830). Painter, draughtsman and President of the Royal Academy, Lawrence was taught by his father to recite passages from Pope, Collins, Milton and Shakespeare to his customers. Lawrence’s portrait of British actor John Philip Kemble (1757- 1823), depicting him blanketed in shadows, revels in the theatricality that Shakespearean tragedy affords. Meanwhile, pivotal moments in theatre history, such as the burning of Drury Lane, are captured on the canvas in Old Drury Lane on fire, London 24 February 1809 by Abraham Pether.

Those visiting the exhibition will also be able to view pieces by celebrated names, including William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), John Everett Millais (1829-1896) and George Frederic Watts (1817-
1904). The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood cherished the Romantic poets and the writings of John Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle, according to whom the world itself should be read as a system of
visual signs.

Guildhall Art Gallery is owned and managed by the City of London Corporation and is situated on an historic and culturally significant location, Guildhall Yard – the site of London’s
Roman Amphitheatre. Established in 1886,visitors can view works of art dating from 1670 to the present day, including 17th century portraits, Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces and an extensive range of paintings documenting London’s history.

Talking about the exhibition, Chair of the City of London Corporation’s Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee Wendy Hyde says, “This fascinating new exhibition – which uniquely fuses art, theatre, literature and music – will become a big talking point here in the heart of the City. London is coming together, and the arts are key to its recovery from Covid. Must-see exhibitions like this help create the positive feeling that re-energises the Square Mile and beyond. Inspired will leave gallery goers feeling inspired themselves.”

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