Sunil Gupta | The New Pre-Raphaelites | The Holburne Museum

Hales is delighted to announce Sunil Gupta’s solo exhibition, The New Pre-Raphaelites at the Holburne Museum, Bath which opens on 24 September and runs through to 19 January 2022. 

Gupta’s 2008 series The New Pre-Raphaelites, was made in response to section 377 – an archaic law that criminalised homosexuality in India. A relic of British rule, the 1860 law was still in place in 2008 when Gupta was living in India. This law led to LGBTQ culture being pushed underground and kept secret as well as making it difficult to treat serious medical problems such as HIV. 

Gupta uses the Pre-Raphaelites as inspiration for this series, for they were using classical iconography to make a rebellious point about burgeoning sexuality in the 19th century. Gupta uses the formal qualities of the original paintings, creating similarities in composition, colour and detail but his portraits are ‘strikingly contemporary. Rather than romantically remote, the subject’s gaze is in each case penetratingly intimate.’ (Whiles, 2010)

Depicting gay couples and single men and women posing romantically, Gupta highlights that the models, who are real people, occupy the space of criminal intent within section 377. These protagonists of this struggle are decked in brilliant costume and luxurious fabrics, creating an intense radiance in the photographs. Combining symbolism and realism in mythological portrayals, The New Pre-Raphaelites are captivating in their unique story telling. 

The New Pre-Raphaelites will accompany a major new exhibition of Dante Gabriel Rosetti portraits at the Holburne Museum.

Chris Stephens, Director of the Holburne Museum says: “I am proud and delighted to be showing at the Holburne such an important and courageous body of work as Sunil Gupta’s The New Pre-Raphaelites. We seek always to draw out the contemporary resonances of our historic exhibits and that could not be more powerfully represented than in this body of work in which Gupta uses Victorian pictorial compositions in order to raise marginalised and criminalised same-sex relationships to the highest level of romantic love.”



Sunil Gupta

The New Pre-Raphaelites

24 September 2021 – 19 January 2022

Holburne Museum

Great Pulteney Street

Bathwick, Bath BA2 4DB


For more information please click here


September 20, 2021