“Sensual Christianity”: I review an art show

in the Weekly Standard. “The Pre-Raphaelites,” at the National Gallery until May 19:

The Pre-Raphaelites attempted to craft a unified sensibility at once modern and medieval. Unlike devotees of the overlapping Aesthetic and Decadent movements, who, in some ways, were the Brotherhood’s heirs, the Pre-Raphaelites were aggressively English and Protestant. Shakespeare, Keats, Chaucer, and Wycliffe all get heroic treatments here. And the exhibit highlights the artists’ religious sensibilities—in fact, one room is dedicated to portrayals of “Salvation,” but religious themes weave throughout the show—and religious paintings show some of the best examples of the Pre-Raphaelite method.

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