Art Diary

The Legend of King Arthur: A Pre-Raphaelite Love Story

7 October 2022

The Arthurian legends fell out of favour at the end of the Middle Ages, but, after they were revived by poets such as Walter Scott and Alfred Tennyson in the 19th-century, for the Victorians they were very much in vogue. This show at the William Morris Gallery (14 October–22 January 2023) explores how the exploits of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table captured the Victorian imagination, spurred on by the republication of Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur. In the visual arts, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, formed in 1848, were particularly influential, with elaborate paintings depicting famous knights and mythic quests such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Sir Launcelot in the Queens Chamber (1857). Later in the century, William Morris, leader of the the Arts and Crafts movement, produced a series of tapestries depicting Arthurian subjects; Arming and and Departure of the Knights Tapestry, in which Queen Guinevere is shown passing a sword to Sir Lancelot, and Attainment of the Holy Grail (both 1891–94) are both on display here. Find out more on William Morris Gallery’s website.

Preview below | View Apollo’s Art Diary here

La Belle Iseult (1858), William Morris. Photo: © Tate Images

The Rift Within the Lute (1861–62), Arthur Hughes. Photo: © Tullie House

Sir Launcelot in the Queens Chamber (1857), Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Photo: Creative Commons Images (Birmingham Museums Trust)


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