Painting With Light

The real surprise of this show, subtitled Art And Photography From The Pre-Raphaelites To The Modern Age, is that the photos are, by and large, so much better than the paintings they either inspired or recorded. For example, DG Rossetti’s ludicrous Proserpine, modelled by Jane Morris, pales into insignificance beside the two brilliant photographs of Morris which accompany it. And Peter Henry Emerson’s photographs of the Norfolk Broads capture the quintessence of that raw, wild yet beautiful world so much more honestly than Thomas Goodall’s rather idealised paintings of the same scenes. The painters’ reputations are only saved thanks to magnificent contributions by Turner and Whistler. But ultimately this fine show helps you understand why figurative art has been eclipsed by abstraction. It runs at Tate Britain till September 25 .

 

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