Staff at Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery were surprised and delighted last month when two major art galleries from overseas contacted them about borrowing some of the Museum’s works of art for exhibitions in 2010 and 2011.
Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery was initially approached by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, who were keen to borrow the photograph ‘The Lady of Shalott’ by Henry Peach Robinson. The photograph is required for an exhibition called ‘The Pre-Raphaelite Lens: British photography and painting, 1848-1875’ which will be on show in Washington from October 2010 to January 2011. It will then tour to Paris where it will be on show at the Musee d’Orsay until May 2011.
An expert representing the National Gallery of Washington has also been to visit the Museum to see the ‘Lady of Shalott’ first hand, and she declared it to be ‘an exquisite print’.
The Lady of Shallott (1861) is one of Henry Peach Robinson’s most beautiful and effective ‘combination prints’ – a photo constructed of several different negatives. The scene, illustrating the poem by Tennyson shows the Lady of Shalott floating down the river to her death. It echoes the painting of Robinson’s contemporaries – the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, not just in its subject matter and romantic tone but also in its obsessive detailing of the natural world.