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Feature: Paintings by celebrated Pre-Raphaelite painters on show in Liverpool

LONDON, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Century old paintings never before seen in public go on show at one of Britain's biggest ever Pre-Raphaelite exhibitions opening in Liverpool on Friday.

Curator, Christopher Newall, an international expert in Pre-Raphaelite art, started discussions about the exhibition in 2004, and only now has it come to fruition at the Walker Art Gallery, one of Britain's leading national art galleries.

Around 120 paintings by celebrated Pre-Raphaelite painters such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, are featured at the blockbuster exhibition in Liverpool.

Newall and art experts from National Museums Liverpool have assembled a collection of paintings from public galleries across the country, with around a third of the exhibits in the show borrowed from private collectors.

One of the paintings is a little known Pre-Raphaelite treasure 'The Salutation of Beatrice', painted by Rossetti 135 years ago, and on show for the first time ever in public.

The fascinating painting belonged to Rossetti's close friend and major patron Frederick Leyland, a Liverpool-born ship owner and art collector. It is still owned by the descendants of Leyland. Another Rossetti from the Leyland collection has also never been seen in public with a third work last shown in public 140 years ago.

A smaller painting, The Hay Loft, also known as Catnap, was painted in 1858 by Rosa Brett and is privately owned. It features a seemingly innocent image of a snoozing cat, but discarded clothing close by suggests less than innocent activities taking place elsewhere in the barn.

When the painting was exhibited in Liverpool in 1858 at Brett's debut exhibition, she used a male-sounding pseudonym to hide the fact the work, with its secretive hint of passion, was by a female artist.

The exhibition, 'Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion' runs at the Walker until June 5, and tells for the first time how the Liverpool of Victorian England played a major in the success of Pre-Raphaelite art.

Newall said the exhibition will reveal, for the very first time, how Liverpool influenced an art movement that would change the course of British art in the 19th century.

"This exhibition explores different aspects of patronage, art politics and of the careers of the artists who lived in Liverpool in a way that no exhibition has previously done. This is an exhibition of national, if not international significance. Something on this scale is unlikely to be repeated for at least 20 years." he said.


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