Sunday, 30 October 2011

A Passion for the Pre-Raphaelites by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber is best known for the musicals that made him a multi-millionaire. He was less well known for his passion in the work of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood - until he presented a documentary where he talks about their work, their lives, and their long term influence.

Growing up in London in the 1960s, he visited local churches and saw the works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones in the stained glass windows. He then became a regular visitor to London's Tate Gallery collection in the Pre-Raphaelite gallery.

Interestingly, he explains that unfashionable Victorian paintings could be bought very cheaply at the time. He became wealthy after the hit musical Jesus Christ Superstar in the early 1970's and started what he calls 'serious' art collecting.

He is coy about what it has cost but he has paid record prices at art auctions, paying £17M for a Picasso and his collection includes A Vision of Fiammetta , one of Rossetti's last paintings. Pride of place, of course, goes to one of the eight versions of Rossetti’s ‘Proserpine’.

Andrew Lloyd Webber He makes a good case for their lasting impact not just on art, but also architecture and the way we now think about the Victorians. Disappointingly, he made no mention in the programme of John Ruskin, although there were several opportunities to do so.

The documentary should be available on this link until the 2nd November 2011


  1. I live outside the UK and it would not play for me. :Sigh: Maybe it will end up on YouTube one day.

  2. I saw it on you tube but I think it was taken off in the U.S. I was surprised by his art collection but when you have that much money, why not collect what you love? It was a short documentary but I thought it was well done and I must admit that I am not even close to a historian of the Victorian era or Pre-Raphaelite art, I did not notice that John Ruskin was not mentioned. Please forgive my ignorance, but he seems more like a promoter of their art than anything else and then there was the scandal with his wife. I doubt that I would want to read anything he wrote about art and architecture. I guess art critics have not been of interest to me. I know what I like and do not need their help in deciding for me. The same goes for movie and book critics.