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The Pre-Raphaelites

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



The term Pre-Raphaelites refers to High Renaissance artist Raphael. Raphael was one of the greatest painters of the High Renaissance. 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 spirit of Early Renaissance and Gothic era painters.  The  (PRB) felt that these painters infused their paintings with sincerity, godliness and innocence. 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 friends, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt rejected Neoclassical and High Renaissance art. They  created a new artistic style using biblical, mythological, and literary inspiration as the subjects for their paintings. Many of these paintings 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  "For when we are interested in the beauty of a thing, the oftener we can see it the better; but when we are interested only by the story of a thing, we get tired of hearing the same tale told over and over again, and stopping always at the same point — we want a new story presently, a newer and better one — and the picture of the day, and novel of the day, become as ephemeral as the coiffure or the bonnet of the day. Now this spirit is wholly adverse to the existence of any lovely art. If you mean to throw it aside to-morrow, you can never have it to-day."

Pre-Raphaelites Themes

femme fatale 
Italian themes 
 historical themes 
 literary themes

Literary influences of the Pre-Raphaelites
Edward Bulwer-Lytton
John Keats
Coventry Patmore
Charles Dickens
Dinah Maria Mulock

Famous Artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Movement

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



Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood  -  Quattrocento art, mythology, the classical world,  Pre-Raphaelite Journal, Margaret Gatty,  medieval era, mermaids, Florentine art, spiritually significant,, The Germ, idealized biblical themes, Jewish folklore,  19th century, avant-garde movement, Romantic poetry,  Goethe, Old Testament stories, ethereal and foggy backgrounds, mythology, history painting, 1848, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, John Keats, Shakespeare, Coventry Patmore, Charles Dickens, Tennyson, romanticized landscapes, Christian symbolism, Cyclographic Club, Early Renaissance painting,


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