From Wolverhampton with love: Pre-Raphaelite painting to star in new Italian exhibition | Express & Star

From Wolverhampton with love: Pre-Raphaelite painting to star in new Italian exhibition

One of Wolverhampton's most treasured paintings is going on a romantic break to Italy this Valentine's Day.

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Love Among the Ruins is being loaned to Italy

Love Among the Ruins by Birmingham-born artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones usually hangs in the Great Parlour in Wightwick Manor, but has been cleaned up, packaged up and transported to the Musei di San Domenico in Forlì, near Bologna.

The painting in the Great Parlour

The painting is set to appear in the ‘Pre-Raphaelites: A Modern Renaissance’ exhibition, which will trace the impact of historical Italian art on the Pre-Raphaelite movement between the 1840s and 1920s.

The exhibition will display Italian masterpieces side by side with the British artworks they inspired.

Wightwick Manor contains a significant Pre-Raphaelite art collection, with Love Among the Ruins among the highlights.

Helen Bratt-Wyton, house and collections manager, said the timing of the exhibition was perfect in ensuring ‘Love Among the Ruins’ is away whilst works to the Great Parlour are taking place.

She said: “We are so excited about ‘Love Among the Ruins’ going to this prestigious exhibition in Italy on Pre-Raphaelite art. We are lucky to have such a major work by Burne-Jones normally on display here in Wolverhampton.

"Fans can see this work when it comes back to the UK in August, at another National Trust property, Upton House and Gardens in Warwickshire, before it returns to Wightwick in 2025.”

One of Burne-Jones’ most important late artworks, the oil painting features two lovers embracing among the decaying ruins of a building overgrown with roses. This melancholy scene appears to show that the couple’s love is a potent force in an otherwise crumbling civilisation.

Love Among The Ruins

The original watercolour composition, inspired by the Robert Browning poem of the same name, was painted shortly after Burne-Jones’s passionate affair with Greek artist and sculptor Marie Zambaco, who had become his muse. The first painting was unfortunately damaged and this second version was completed in 1894.

The timing of the Italian exhibition coincides with The Big MEND at Wightwick Manor, funded by a £658,260 Museum Estate and Development (MEND) Fund grant, from Arts Council England on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

By the end of 2026, this project aims to repair and conserve the manor’s timber frame, window frames, sills and stained glass, with work also due to repair and repoint chimneys and rainwater goods.

The property team are currently busy preparing for Phase 2 of The Big MEND project which will start in March. Visitors will be able to see conservation work taking place, with fascinating insights into how the National Trust looks after the buildings and collections in its care.

For more information and to plan a visit to Wightwick Manor visit nationaltrust.org.uk/wightwick-manor.