In postwar Britain the reputation of high Victorian art fell to an all-time low, and a Pre-Raphaelite painting of Ophelia sold in 1950 for a paltry 20 pounds. Times have changed; this summer auctioneers will sell the same painting for around 2 million pounds.

The exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite paintings at Shinjuku's Yasuda Kasai Museum is a chance to rediscover the passion and poetry of this school. With over 90 works, the curators show us a good mixture of the familiar and the neglected. Besides the "fair damozels" of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Sir John Everett Millais, there are unsettling symbolist drawings from Simeon Solomon, exotic Eastern beauties from Leighton and atmospheric landscapes to broaden our view of the movement.

Originally, seven artistic souls formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. Rejecting pompous academicism, they aspired to the technical and spiritual purity of medieval Italian painting (hence their name). Although the brothers soon parted, they opened a unique path for British art. While the French avant-garde explored color theory and light, leading to Impressionism, these British artists sought elevating stories, illustrated in enamel-bright colors, in minute detail. Truth to nature was their creed, and like their colleagues in France, they painted directly from life.