VIDEO: Lady Lever exhibition reveals Rossetti's obsession

Jill Iredale from Bradford Museums and Galleries looks at one of the exhibits today.

Jill Iredale from Bradford Museums and Galleries with one of the exhibits today.

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A NEW exhibition highlighting Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Rossetti's obsession with one of his models opens at the Lady Lever Gallery in Port Sunlight this week.

More than 30 paintings, drawings and photographs of Jane Morris, including a number which were used as studies for some of Rossetti's most famous works, feature in Rossetti's Obsession, which opens on Friday, June 20.

Bringing together rarely displayed works, the exhibition focuses on Rossetti's fixation with Morris and his depiction of her as the ultimate femme-fatale.

The exhibition has been created, in association with Bradford Museums and Galleries.

Sandra Penketh, director of art galleries for National Museums Liverpool, said: “More than 150 years since the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, this radical, vibrant movement still excites audiences today.

“Jane Morris as a model, muse, wife, lover and artist in her own right was at the heart of this explosive group which challenged the art establishment of the time.

“Her striking features, tumbling long hair and haunting stare appear in so many of Rossetti's finest works that they have become indelibly associated with the movement.

"The Lady Lever Art Gallery has one of the best Pre-Raphaelite collections in the world so we're delighted to tell the story of the relationship between two of the movement's chief protagonists."

Born Jane Burden, Morris came to the attention of Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites in 1857. In 1859 she married William Morris, but shortly after began a long affair with Rossetti.

Sharing a deep emotional attachment, Morris and Rossetti's relationship was the source of many of Rossetti's mid-to-late paintings, regarded by many as being among the best of his career.

The exhibition includes the studies Pandora (1878), La Donna della Finestra (1870) and La Donna della Fiamma (1870) from this period but it is the painting Proserpine (1882) which had the deepest resonance with the couple.

The exhibition also gives a small insight into Morris's life away from Rossetti's gaze.

A stunning tapestry (267 x 150cm), designed by her husband William Morris and produced by Morris and her daughter Jenny, reveal a skilled embroiderer and an important member of the Arts and Crafts Movement.

It is also a rare example of the collaboration between three members of the Morris family.

The exhibtion is on display until September 21.

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