Art lovers in Falmouth will get an exclusive chance to see the entire Lady of Shalott series of paintings by John William Waterhouse this weekend; together for the first time in the UK.

Falmouth Art Gallery will be welcoming home its popular touring exhibition this summer, telling the story for the first time of the links between Arthurian legend and the Pre-Raphaelite artists.

The Legend of King Arthur: A Pre-Raphaelite Love Story, curated by Natalie Rigby, traces the legend of King Arthur across the county, drawing together over 60 iconic works of art from public and private lenders around the UK and beyond.

Falmouth Packet: Edward Burne Jones and William Morris - The Holy Grail Tapestries - The arming.Edward Burne Jones and William Morris - The Holy Grail Tapestries - The arming. (Image: Supplied)

Having travelled extensively for the first two legs of the tour, the final stage of the exhibition brings it to Cornwall – long-known for its connections to the legend of King Arthur, from June 17 to September 30.

Falmouth Art Gallery has secured the entire Lady of Shalott series of paintings by English painter John William Waterhouse as a major part of the exhibition.

Painted over a 20 year period, these have never been exhibited together in the UK, providing an exclusive and unique opportunity to see them all together in Cornwall.

Oil studies, drawings and sketchbooks from the series and Waterhouse’s personal copy of ‘Tennyson’s Poems’ with drawings and annotations will also be displayed.

Morwenna Lewis, Director of Falmouth Art Gallery, said: “The gallery team are thrilled to be bringing this long-awaited swoon of a show to Cornwall.

It is bigger than anything the Gallery has put on before, and promises to be an indulgence for the senses, capturing the quintessential spirit of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and delighting locals and visitors alike.”

Cornwall is home to a number of key sites linked to the legend of King Arthur including Arthur’s birthplace and castle, and Merlin’s cave at Tintagel, the battle site between King Arthur and Mordred, the site of the Lady of the Lake, the location of Excalibur at Loe Bar and the Tristan stone in Fowey.

Falmouth Packet: John William Waterhouse - I am half sick of shadowsJohn William Waterhouse - I am half sick of shadows (Image: Supplied)

The exhibition is part of a year-long touring exhibition at three renowned British public museums - the William Morris Gallery in London, Tullie House in Carlisle and Falmouth Art Gallery in Cornwall were selected for their connection to the stories of King Arthur, with each stage of the tour tweaked to tell the stories of their particular region.

Falmouth Art Gallery will be exhibiting work by Pre-Raphaelite artists such as William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale, Emma Sandys Edward Burne-Jones, John William Waterhouse, and Elizabeth Siddal amongst many others.


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The 12-month touring exhibition brings together large oil paintings, sketches and oil studies, illustrated books, sketchbooks and etchings at all three galleries, with exhibits differing slightly between the venues – all exploring the King Arthur legend through the lens of Pre-Raphaelite artists and their followers, who were challenging the conventional paintings they had typically seen at the Royal Academy in the mid-1800s.

A fully illustrated book accompanies the exhibition. Published by Sansom & Company, it features essays by internationally recognised Arthurian specialists and explores the legend and its influence on the Victorian period.

Falmouth Packet: Edward Burne Jones - Lancelot at the Chapel of the Holy GrailEdward Burne Jones - Lancelot at the Chapel of the Holy Grail (Image: Supplied)

This exhibition has been kindly supported by Visit Cornwall, Visit England and Cornwall Museums Partnership. This exhibition was made possible with Art Fund support.

Find out more about the forthcoming exhibition and plans for its launch here