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"John Brett - A Pre-Raphaelite on the Shores of Wales"
2001-08-14 until 2001-11-25
National Museums and Galleries of Wales
Cardiff, WL, UK United Kingdom

The first exhibition ever devoted to Brett’s association with Wales and the latter part of his career, John Brett - A Pre- Raphaelite on the Shores of Wales opens at the National Museum & Gallery as part of the Art in Wales series, 14 August 2001. It includes 35 major loans depicting the Welsh coastline and a selection of the artist’s journals, sketchbooks and his original photography.

John Brett (1831 – 1902) is best known for his painting The Stonebreaker exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1858 and Val d’Aosta of 1859. He was an associate in the mid 1850s of Millais and Holman Hunt, both of whom were influential upon his artistic development. He was also a friend of D G Rossetti and his work was initially praised by Ruskin, the great Victorian art critic. After his relationship with Ruskin cooled, he devoted his later career to painting the sea.

Brett was a keen sailor and often sketched the Welsh shoreline from his yacht, the Viking. He and his family enjoyed many happy holidays in Wales and the exhibition emphasises his devotion to family life and his passion for the sea and boating. Detailed sweeping views of such well-known beauty spots as the Menai Strait, Penmaenmawr, Whitesand Bay, Dinas Bay and Caldey Island and Fishguard, the area Brett loved best, where he and his wife purchased a farmhouse and land. He described it as ‘in short the only really satisfactory seaside place on the whole British coast’.

One of Brett’s finest Welsh seacapes Britannia’s Realm, which was a sensation at the Royal Academy in l880 will be on loan from the Tate Gallery along with other large seascapes including, The Earth’s Shadow on the Sky (Procession of craft up to Bristol in a fog) from Sunderland Museum and Art Gallery and the dramatic The Isles of Skomer and Skokham from Aberdeen Art Gallery. In addition there will be Brett’s original sketchbooks, borrowed from the National Maritime Museum, views of the Menai Strait, Giltar Point and Caldey. Many of his oil sketches will be on display for the first time along with a number of his photographs of his wife, children and the crew of the Viking.

There will be a series of lunchtime talks and a study day on 3 November, at which the keynote speaker will be Professor Allen Staley of Columbia University, New York. A fully illustrated colour catalogue will accompany the exhibition with an introduction by Ann Sumner, curator of the exhibition and essays by the Victorian art specialists Christopher Newall and David Cordingly.
John Brett
Forest Cove, Cardigan Bay

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