Pre-Raphaelite Inspired Hair with The National Gallery and Blue Tit London

Last week on a snowy day in London, I headed to London hairdresser Blue Tit salon in Dalston to have my hair styled. Unlike my usual vintage curls or messy mum hair we were going for something a little different. Inspired by the Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites exhibition at The National Gallery, we were creating a Pre-Raphaelite inspired look.

William Holman Hunt, Il Dolce Far Niente, 1866, Oil on canvas, Private collection © Photo courtesy of the owner

William Holman Hunt, Il Dolce Far Niente, 1866, Oil on canvas, Private collection © Photo courtesy of the owner

The exhibition itself is incredible and of course one of the things that really stands out in Pre-Raphaelite art is the beautiful romantic hair. Blue Tit London recently collaborated with the gallery to create a photo shoot which pays homage to the beautiful paintings on display within the exhibition.

Hair styled by Blue Tit Salon at the National Gallery on the occasion of ‘Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites’. Photograph: Sandra Vijandi.

Hair styled by Blue Tit Salon at the National Gallery on the occasion of ‘Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites’. Photograph: Sandra Vijandi.

Hair styled by Blue Tit Salon at the National Gallery on the occasion of ‘Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites’. Photograph: Sandra Vijandi.

Hair styled by Blue Tit Salon at the National Gallery on the occasion of ‘Reflections: Van Eyck and the Pre-Raphaelites’. Photograph: Sandra Vijandi.

The one advantage to how long and thick my hair is at the moment, is that it was perfect for creating this kind of look. When I arrived at the gorgeous salon, I was greeted by Declan who would be styling my hair. We discussed some ideas and decided to go for some big curls. He wanted to create something that was wearable with some Pre-Raphaelite inspiration.

It took a couple of hours to curl all my hair – there really is a lot of it! The end result was amazing.

Here we fluffed the hair up a bit more for a slightly more Pre-Raphaelite take on the look. It was such a fun way to spend the afternoon and I absolutely loved the salon. Declan was amazing and really took his time to create a look that we both loved. It’s definitely made me want to go back and get a cut and colour done very soon!

William Holman HuntThe Lady of Shalott, about 1886-1905© Manchester City Galleries/Bridgeman ImagesThe salon is absolutely gorgeous and every time I’ve walked past it, I’ve admired the decor. As well as the Dalston branch they have salons in quite a few locations across London. I really enjoyed looking at all the pictures on the wall. It was such a nice environment to sit for a couple of hours and relax, while Declan worked on my hair.

Here’s my resident art historian Matthew, with a little bit more information about the exhibition – The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood formed in 1848 when a group of young artists, including Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt, were looking for a new and fresh inspiration for their art. Instead of looking to the 16th-century Renaissance artist Raphael, who was held up as the ideal model for artists to follow, they were inspired by older medieval and early Renaissance art. This exhibition puts one of their favourite old paintings, Jan van Eyck’s 1434 ‘Arnolfini Portrait’ in the centre, and shows how it influenced the ambitious young Pre-Raphaelite artists.

Jan van Eyck, Portrait of Giovanni (?) Arnolfini and his Wife and ‘The Arnolfini Portrait’ , 1434, National Gallery, London © The National Gallery, London

Jan van Eyck, Portrait of Giovanni (?) Arnolfini and his Wife and ‘The Arnolfini Portrait’ , 1434, National Gallery, London © The National Gallery, London

It’s brilliant to see one of the National Gallery’s most famous paintings surrounded by the Pre-Raphaelite’s works. You can see how they loved the Arnolfini Portrait’s beautiful colours and perfect attention to detail. A painting that was hundreds of years old inspired these Victorian artists to create art that was bold and revolutionary. They loved features like its mysterious round mirror and even had replicas of it in their homes. Van Eyck’s serious portrait was the inspiration for the Pre-Raphaelite’s beautiful women from medieval legend.

Today, the Pre-Raphaelite paintings themselves are now all more than a century old, but they are still beautiful, vivid and fascinating. Just as the Pre-Raphaelites were inspired by Van Eyck, we can be inspired by them for our art, our homes and our style.

Hurry along to catch this exhibition before it closes on 2nd April, and see what inspiration you can find.

Find out more about the exhibition on the National Gallery website

Find out more about Blue Tit London on their website

Thank you to Matthew Storey for contributing to this post. Matthew is a curator and art historian with a specialism in historic art and decorative art. You can read a couple of other posts by him here and here


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