Discovering Art in the Guildhall

Our series of talks on British Art got a boost on 08 March 2024 with two speakers addressing our members. First was our member Diana who, as a guide to the Guildhall Art Gallery, spoke about the history of the gallery.

The Guildhall has been at the centre of the City of London since 1411, and although heavily damaged in World War II, it is currently in amazing condition. Diana was able to show us how the different buildings had served different functions, and how it has come to be the building that we know today. The site of the Guildhall aligns with a Roman Amphitheatre and the circumference of the amphitheatre is marked with a black circle in the courtyard.

Diana then took us through the history of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, from its three founders through to the larger group of 7 artists and their companions and friends. The relationships between the artists, their wives, their children, and the wives and children of other members is too complex for these pages, but the art they produced was well illustrated by Diana, and clearly showed the connections between works from the time of Raphael and the aims and goals of the Brotherhood.

We were shown many works by Rossetti, Millais and Hunt, and their sitters, and the significance of each was explained.

After the break, we had Jennifer as our second speaker, dealing with the work of Edward Burne-Jones, later Sir Edward Burne-Jones, and finally Edward Lord Burne-Jones. Burne-Jones was closely involved with members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but also had a business relationship with William Morris. He therefore created a link between the Brotherhood and the Arts and Crafts Movement.

We noted his preference for upright images, usually quite narrow for the height of the images. He was also quite insistent on how his images were hung, specifying height from the floor and tilt away from the wall at the base or at the top.

We finished with Burne-Jones’ fascination with the legendary life of King Arthur and his afterlife in Avalon.

We meet next for the final talk in this series on Friday 22 March 2024 at 10.00am.

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