Review Round Up: The Rossettis, Tate Britain

Tate Britain explores the family’s approach to art, love and lifestyles in this brand new exhibition – but what have critics had to say about it?

detail of Lady Lilith by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Photograph: Delaware Aer Museum, Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Memorial, 1935

The Guardian: ** “Although this exhibition strives to set her verse alongside his art, there’s only so far you can go with bringing literature into the gallery via poems printed on walls. Her steady quiet voice is drowned out by his lurid paintings of luscious-lipped beauties. It looks as if DG never tried to draw anyone or anything freshly from life, ever. His pseudo-Renaissance paintings are heavily worked up concoctions of symbolist erotica – and it turns out his drawings are like that, too. When he sketches his models, who are his lovers, he never sticks with what he sees but transfigures them in abstracted, simplified lines. Not that he’s an abstract artist. Just an emptily idealising one.”

The Telegraph: ** “Effectively a Gabriel Rossetti retrospective, Tate Britain’s show fails to make a case for all the Arthurian playacting and uneasy sexism.”

Evening Standard: **** “There are splendid loans here from Delaware and private collections, which make a visit worthwhile. But you come out of this show reeling from a hothouse surfeit of sensuousness and big hair.”

Time Out: ** “But you spend the whole first half waiting to be wowed by some majestic painting and then find they’ve saved them all for the last two rooms. Now you’re surrounded by Gabriel’s florid, dramatic, romantic, grandiose, ridiculous portraits of women with endless flowing hair and jaws you could use to demolish a house. Classic, poetic, schmaltzy Dante Gabriel Rossetti stuff.”

The Independent: *** “This blockbuster show about the famous artist-poet family is suitably obsessed with death but gradually consumed by the life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.”

Culture Whisper: ** “Yet throughout the exhibition what’s missing is the epic paintings that Dante Gabriel Rossetti created and visitors will turn every corner expecting to see them – this show holds out and only gives us what we came for right at the end. His paintings of beautiful red-headed women in dramatic scenes are largely confined to one room and they are stunning but it’s not enough to lift up an exhibition that’s rather tedious outside this one room.”

London Mums Magazine: “Whether you are a fan of the Pre-Raphaelite movement or just interested in the history of art, The Rossettis exhibition is a must-see for families who want to share a memorable and enriching cultural experience.”

The exhibition is on display at Tate Britain until the 24th September 2023.

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