Alison Smith (Tate Britain) ‘Pre-Raphaelitism in Poland’

Recent scholarship has established that the Pre-Raphaelites had an important influence on the development of a distinct modern aesthetic in Poland in the years leading up to independence after the first World War, even though very few original works by British artists were shown in Central Europe around this time. Known mainly through black and white reproductions and the descriptions of writers and critics, Pre-Raphaelitism nevertheless came to inform a mission to be both progressive and nationalistic on the part of Polish modernists. This paper examined the process of translation, both visual and verbal, through which works characterised by commentators as peculiarly British came to assume stylistic and political relevance in partitioned Poland. It also considered the extent to which Polish perceptions of Pre-Raphaelitism matched those perpetuated by British critics.

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