Pre-Raphaelites in The City: Pre-Raphaelites in Birmingham

Dinah Roe

Pre-Raphaelites in Birmingham

I first came to visit Birmingham to celebrate the beginning of my postgraduate studies in 1998. I walked around the city all day, backpack slung over my shoulders, revelling in the city’s startling combination of old and new. I had come up from London to see the Edward Burne-Jones exhibition at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. I remember buying a small exhibition poster and putting it up in the tiny bedroom at my halls of residence, and wondering when I would return.

Over the years I have visited Birmingham many times, but this past weekend was very special to me; I gave a talk on Pre-Raphaelite frames for the Pre-Raphaelite Society at the beautiful Birmingham Cathedral. It was such an honour to meet the members of the Society, who were as curious, knowledgeable and engaged an audience as any speaker could hope for. I particularly enjoyed the question and answer session, and learned a great deal. I encourage anyone who is interested in the Pre-Raphaelites to join and support the Pre-Raphaelite Society.

Also, if you haven’t visited Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, do so immediately. In addition to a fine collection of Pre-Raphaelite art, they have an excellent giftshop, featuring all manner of fun Pre-Raphaelite books, posters, magnets, key-chains, etc. I bought myself a very handsome tea-towel.

And if the prospect of acquiring a tea towel with Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Proserpine is not enough to convince you to visit Birmingham soon, perhaps some of these photos from the day will persuade you to experience the city’s charms for yourself.

Birmingham Cathedral

Statue of Bishop Charles Gore, at the West entrance of the Cathedral

Ford Madox Brown, ‘Work’ (BMAG)

Frame detail from Brown’s ‘Work’ (BMAG)


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Pre-Raphaelites in the City

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This blog explores the thriving Victorian cities which inspired the Pre-Raphaelites, and were shaped by them in turn. While the Pre-Raphaelites produced poetry and art praising the natural world, most were born and raised in urban environments, and their work retained a cosmopolitan sensibility. Although this blog will sometimes take excursions into the countryside, its focus will remain on city life. If you want more information on images or sources, please get in touch.