On Saturday, July 31, the Delaware Art Museum unveiled its reimagined galleries of British Pre-Raphaelite art, continuing a series of gallery reopenings throughout the summer. Shaped by feedback from over 100 Delawareans, Radical Beauty explores the artists who rebelled against the Victorian art world to forge new ways of artmaking.
DelArts Pre-Raphaelite art collection is one of the largest outside of Great Britain, an attraction that draws art lovers far and wide to Wilmington. The reinstallation moves the collection to prominent main floor galleries at the Museums entrance.
The Museums collection of Pre-Raphaelite art was developed through the gift of Wilmington mill owner Samuel Bancroft. In recent years, the collection has been expanded with new acquisitions and interpretation. The reimagined galleries celebrate not only the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but also the women artists in their circle and the diverse models they painted, says Margaretta Frederick, Annette Woolard-Provine Curator of the Bancroft Collection. A new Museum audio tour features the story of Jamaican Pre-Raphaelite model Fanny Eaton, told by her great grandson. The Museum also recently acquired an academic study of an unknown Black model, by Victorian artist William Wise. Frederick hopes to uncover the models story through research and share it with visitors in the future.
The new gallery design vibrantly showcases a variety of art forms. The Pre-Raphaelites were radical in ignoring divisions between art genre, says Frederick. They created paintings, wrote poetry, and sometimes merged the two. The new galleries will integrate rich displays of decorative art, part of the Arts and Crafts Movement fostered by William Morris and Pre-Raphaelite artists. One showstopper is a newly acquired stained glass window of Noah, by Edward Burne-Jones.
Visitors to the galleries will also find fresh context for old favorites, developed in response to community members questions and interests. Audiences are invited to consider how the Pre-Raphaelites responded to industrial pollution and to explore the barriers female artists faced in Victorian England. We are grateful to the community members who guided this project. We look forward to sharing their voices with visitors when the new galleries open, said Amelia Wiggins, Assistant Director of Learning and Engagement.
Radical Beauty opens on Saturday, July 31, and guided tours are available in August, at delart.org