Painting with Light offers new insights into Britain’s most popular artists and reveals how vital painting and photography were to one another. Their conversations were at the heart of the artistic achievements of the Victorian and Edwardian era.
The dawn of photography coincided with a tide of revolutionary ideas in the arts. Photographers adapted the Old Master traditions within which many of them had been trained, but also engaged with the radical naturalism of Turner, the Pre-Raphaelites, and their Realist and Impressionist successors.
We will see how Turner inspired Hill and Adamson’s first romantic photographic panoramas in Edinburgh. Photographers, in turn, helped John Ruskin and Pre-Raphaelite painters find a new poetry in the light and details of nature. Painters and photographers shared subjects and models and sought increasingly spontaneous poses and appearances.
We will also trace the change from sharpness to softness in photography and painting brought about by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his circle and the distinctively decorative naturalism of Emerson and Goodall’s impressions of rural river life and Whistler and Alvin Langdon Coburn’s smoky Thames nocturnes. British painting and ‘pictorialist’ photographers went on to inspire artists in Europe and the United States and establish art photography as we know it today.
Painting with Light: Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the Modern Age at Tate Britain 11 May – 25 September, curated by Dr Carol Jacobi and Hope Kingsley and Tim Batchelor. The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue.
Dr Carol Jacobi is Curator, British Art 1850–1915 at Tate and publishes and broadcasts on nineteenth and twentieth century British Art. She was part of the team creating Artist and Empire and has curated displays and exhibitions including Pre-Raphaelite Works on Paper (2015–17), ‘Poor man’s picture gallery’: Victorian Art and Stereoscopic Photography and Salt and Silver: Early Photography 1840–1860. In the past she has held the Leverhulme Fellow in the History of Portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery and taught at Birkbeck College and the Courtauld Institute.