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The Pre-Raphaelites

The artists took inspiration  from literature including the Bible and Shakespeare.


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The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) was founded in 1848. The most important artist was a handsome and charming painter named Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  Rossetti and his chums, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt rejected Neoclassical and High Renaissance art  and embraced the spiritually infused works of the Early Renaissance, Byzantine and Gothic era painters. They  created a new artistic style using biblical, mythological, and literary imagery as the subjects of their paintings. Their paintings often contained obscure visual symbols and vague riddles.

The idealistic Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood painters wanted to change the world with their art, much like the hippies of the 1960s. They scorned the pretentious conventionality of the Victorian era. They rebelled against the unbridled materialism and rampant hypocrisy that was all around them and   sought a return to spirituality, courtliness, brotherly love and piety. John Ruskin, famous Victorian Art Critic and major influence on the PRB, advised  "All art which involves no reference to man is inferior or nugatory. And all art which involves misconception of man, or base thought of him, is in that degree false and base. Now the basest thought possible concerning him is, that he has no spiritual nature; and the foolishest misunderstanding of him possible is, that he has or should have, no animal nature. For his nature is nobly animal, nobly spiritual -- coherently and irrevocably so; neither part of it may, but at its peril, expel, despise, or defy the other. All great art confesses and worships both."


The term Pre-Raphaelites refers to High Renaissance artist Raphael. Some members of the PRB referred to Raphael's work as slosh and criticized his decadent themes and eroticized biblical subject matter. Dante Rossetti and the other (PRB) artists embraced the artistic style of Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Paolo Veneziano, Andrea del Verrocchio and Giotto BondoneThe  (PRB) felt that these painters  infused their works with sincerity, godliness and innocence.

The Greatest Artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

Dante Gabriel Rossetti
John Everett Millais
William Holman Hunt
Edward Robert Hughes
John William Godward
John William Waterhouse
Lord Frederic Leighton
Edward Burne-Jones
Walter Howell Deverell


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