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Summary Article: Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Group of British painters (1848–53); Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and Holman Hunt – at this time young students at the Royal Academy – were the leading figures among the seven founders. They aimed to paint serious subjects, to study nature closely, and to return to the sincerity of spirit of painters before the time of Raphael Sanzio (1483–1520). Their subjects were mainly biblical and literary, painted with obsessive naturalism and attention to detail. The group was short-lived but added a new realism to the art of the 1850s, and influenced many painters.

In his later work only Hunt remained true to Pre-Raphaelite ideals, but the name stuck to Rossetti, the least committed of the original group, and was applied to his later dreamily romantic pictures although these had moved away from the movement's founding ideas. A ‘second wave’ of Pre-Raphaelitism in the late 19th century, stimulated by Ruskin and Rossetti, was associated with the revival of handicrafts and the art of design. William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones were among the many artists influenced at this time.

A reaction against the triviality of early Victorian academic art, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was based partly on Ruskin's doctrine of ‘truth to nature’, and partly on the idea of return to pre-Renaissance ideals. The early pictures, painted with minute detail and brilliant colour, aroused the enthusiasm of many followers. Early Pre-Raphaelite disciples who produced notable works were W H Deverell, W L Windus, John Brett, W S Burton, and Robert Martineau. The second development of Pre-Raphaelitism was first suggested by the abortive effort to decorate the Oxford Union with frescoes in 1857, in which Rossetti was assisted by William Morris, Burne-Jones, and others. The firm subsequently founded by Morris carried Pre-Raphaelite art into many fields of useful design.


Rossetti, Dante Gabriel: ‘The Woodspurge’

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel: ‘Willowwood’


Millais, Jean Everett


Pre-Raphaelite Critic

Victorian Web


Burne-Jones, Edward Coley Sidonia von Borke

Millias, John Everett

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

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