Rossetti, pre the Pre-Raphaelites - Exhibition at Wightwick Manor

Pen and ink drawing of an old woman seated on a low stool with a cat on her left shoulder. She is holding a small twig.

The style of Pre-Raphaelite artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti is well known around the world, but what do we know of his early work and influences that made his art so iconic?

Rossetti, pre the Pre-Raphaelites

4 March – 24 December 2019

Wightwick Manor was home to the Mander family (1887 – 1988) who filled it with their love for Victorian art and design, in particular Pre Raphaelite art collected in the mid-20th century at a time when it was deeply unfashionable. The house is filled with furniture and textiles from the Arts and Crafts movement along with some fine examples of paintings by leading Pre Raphaelite artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

Now, thanks to a gift accepted in lieu of inheritance tax, 52 drawings by Rossetti from his early career have been acquired by the National Trust.

More than 20 of these pictures will be on display to the public for the first time, in a new exhibition in the Daisy Room which will explore the young Rossetti before he helped to establish the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, his interest in literature and his developing style. The exhibition is being funded from a legacy left to the National Trust from a friend of Lady Mander.

The accomplishment of this very early work by Rossetti, whose imagination often outran his technical skill, foreshadows his later, much-admired portrait drawings in Pre-Raphaelite style.
A delicately drawn pencil head self portrait of a young D.G. Rossetti with chalk detail
The accomplishment of this very early work by Rossetti, whose imagination often outran his technical skill, foreshadows his later, much-admired portrait drawings in Pre-Raphaelite style.

All of the drawings are from between 1844-48 during a time when Rossetti was receiving his art education, when still a teenager. Many illustrate the preoccupations of a young man, what he was reading, the gothic macabre and ladies of questionable virtue.

" He wanted to put down his feelings, his reactions to life, in drawing or in verses, but often he was too impatient and would not take the trouble but hurried off to pour out what he felt in talk with his fellow- students at the Art School."
- From 'Portrait of Rossetti' by Rosalie Glyn Grylls (Lady Mander)

Please visit our website to find out when you can visit this exhibition, curated by Helen Bratt-Wyton, House and Collections Manager.