Pre-Raphaelite and other masters: the Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection, The Royal Academy

The show fills the slot of a cancelled exhibition of antiquities on loan from Egypt

This exhibition of art collected over the last 40 years by British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is a last minute addition to the Royal Academy’s programme. Earlier this year the show originally planned for this slot, an exhibition of antiquities on loan from Egypt, was cancelled by the exhibitions secretary, Norman Rosenthal. “We didn’t know how long the conflict in Iraq would last. We were afraid the whole Middle East would freeze,” explains Mr Rosenthal. Lord Lloyd-Webber, who has been talking to the gallery for years about exhibiting his private collection, agreed to step in to save the gallery from the embarrassing prospect of blank walls. The resulting show (20 September-12 December) is a veritable Who’s Who of Victorian painting starting with the pre-Raphaelites—there are three paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “A vision of Fiammetta”, “Damsel of the Sanc Grail” and “Blanzifiore (snowdrops)”and five by William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais respectively. Important watercolours and drawings by Rossetti and Millais are also included. The show then moves on to followers of the brotherhood such as Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones (below, “The attainment of the Holy Grail by Sir Gallahad and Sir Percival”, tapestry) and other Victorian artists and includes important examples by many of the major artists of the period (Ford Maddox Brown, Richard Dadd, Lord Leighton, Tissot) as well as the work of less familiar names (Edith Hayllar, James Campbell, Sophie Anderson). Lord Lloyd-Webber’s acquisitions in entirely different fields are also here; there are important paintings by Stanley Spencer, Munnings, Canaletto, Giovanni Boldini and Picasso.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 139 September 2003