Six Victorian shows

Published 22 October 2014

Adulterers, anarchists and the super sleuth of London - the Victorians are taking over this autumn.

1. Rossetti's Obsession: Images of Jane Morris, William Morris Gallery, London

Free to all

Dante Gabriel Rossetti painted his chief muse and mistress with an obsessional intensity at the height of his career. Marking the centenary year of her death, this exhibition of painting, drawing and photography explores Jane Morris's role both on and off the canvas. Included are the studies for a painting of Jane in the role of Proserpine – the mythological beauty condemned to spend six months of every year in the underworld. During her banishment the lands grew bleak and barren, and would remain that way until she returned. It was painted after Rossetti had spent an idyllic summer with Morris but was about to be parted from her for the winter. Until 4 January 2015.

2. Poor Man's Picture Gallery, Tate Britain, London

Free to all

The Victorians were obsessed with stereoscopic photography. Using a special viewer, they could watch images spring to life in three-dimension – certainly a neat trick in the 19th century. As the pictures were cheaply produced and distributed, stereoscopy became a major craze and many notable artworks were represented in this way. Here Tate brings together original paintings by Millais and Frith with their stereoscopic doubles. The latter are drawn from the collection of Queen guitarist Brian May, whose fascination with the medium began after finding free 3D pictures in his packet of Weetabix. Until 12 April 2015.

3. Anarchy & Beauty: William Morris and his Legacy, 1860-1960, National Portrait Gallery, London

50% off with National Art Pass

William Morris redefined creativity in the Victorian era with his mantra 'art for all'. But beyond the 19th century, the ideals he proposed helped to forge new paths for subsequent generations artists, designers, academics and philosophers. Spanning from the early origins of the art-inclusive movement to its relevance in the 1960s, this show explores Morris and his extraordinary legacy. Key exhibits include his handwritten Socialist Diary and gold-tooled handbound copy of Karl Marx’s Le Capital. Until 11 January 2015.

4. Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Lived and Will Never Die, Museum of London

50% off with National Art Pass

Despite an undeniable 21st century presence, the original exploits of the Victorian sleuth played out in London as it existed 125 years ago. At the time Arthur Conan Doyle was writing, the city was the world's largest and most populous and the capital of the British Empire, yet its labyrinthine streets were marred by crime, alcoholism and prostitution. Here paintings, photographs, manuscripts and the earliest documentary film footage of London, chart the detective's fictional life in the city, while contemporary artefacts – such as Benedict Cumberbatch’s coat and dressing gown – chart Holmes' transcendence onto stage and screen. Until 12 April 2015.

5. A Victorian Obsession, Leighton House Museum, London

50% off with National Art Pass

Mexican tycoon Juan Antonio Pérez Simón owns one of the finest collections of Victorian art in the world. Included are four pictures by Lord Frederic Leighton, which are now returned to the house in which they were painted. Other celebrated artists of the era, such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, John Everett Millais and John William Waterhouse, also feature. These men were friends of Leighton and attended events at his resplendent Kensington residence. 14 November-29 March 2015.

6. Art & Soul: Victorians and the Gothic, Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter

Free to all

The Victorian taste for Gothic style encompassed all areas of art and design. William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites were among those who looked back to the Middle Ages for inspiration, from key iconography to popular mythology. Among the paintings, furniture and stained glass on display are The Holy Grail tapestries - one of the most ambitious projects by Morris and Edward Burne-Jones, they are based around the the story of the Knights of the Round Table and their quest to find the cup Jesus drank from at the Last Supper. 22 November-12 April 2015.

Back to top