Every room elicits discovery. We have not seen many of these pieces before in the usual retrospectives: for instance, “The Wizard”, by Edward Burne-Jones depicts a sorcerer drawing back a curtain, and viewing the image of a shipwreck. On another wall is a series of four large, entrancing paintings depicting the story of Pygmalion (1875-78) by the same artist. View this SAM YouTube video about the Pygmalion series.
Another example of the surprising richness of the items in the exhibit is a large, ornate chest, 1887-1888, of wood, and gold leaf over gesso.
With the heavily gilt gold frames of many of the pieces, the brilliant colors of both the paintings and a large ornate rug near the beginning of the exhibit, I left the museum wishing that we lived in a time of glamorous flourishes (instead of minimalism) fussy finishes, and vibrancy of color.
While the exhibit description on SAM’s website emphasizes the social underpinnings of the works (“the works of the men and women presented in the exhibition illustrate a spectrum of avant-garde practices of the Victorian period embodying aesthetic and social ideals”) it is really the sheer lush abundance of works (150) — running the gamut from large oils to tiles and tea sets to a book by Geoffrey Chaucer -- that is so impressive.
I know an art historian who took pains to visit the exhibit twice, she liked it so well.
Now, you might be wondering, for an after-exhibit nibble, discussion, and de-briefing, are there nearby gluten free dining options?
For atmosphere, one can’t beat the cafe/restaurant directly across First Avenue — Fonte Coffee Roaster. A marvelous layout showcases food, drink, and coffee options while also allowing for cozy dining. inside. It even boasts little dining niches outside, yet separated from the sidewalk. When we ventured in around 4pm on a Sunday, the food dishes were no longer available — however, there was one gluten free muffin/cake for $3.25. I will report on the sourcing later.
SAM’s own “grab-and-go” cafe — TASTE — includes several delicious-sounding items, that, as noted on the menu, either can be “made without gluten-containing ingredients” or can be prepared that way; however, the menu also indicates an additional charge for sandwiches, soups and flatbreads prepared without gluten-containing ingredients. Please note that this language does not say “gluten free.”
All in all, the Victorian Radicals exhibit and a bite after will make a great experience!