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The Pre-Raphaelite Movement

The Pre-Raphaelite Movement

What is the Pre-Raphaelite Movement?

The Pre-Raphaelite Movement was started by a secret society of painters, artists and one writer who called themselves the Pre-Raphaelites. This movement was born in the 19th century.

They objected to the Royal Academy’s promotion of the Renaissance master Raphael as well as the painting of the time which they thought did not reflect the more important ongoings of the time. The movement began with paintings. However, it went on to impact literature, illustrations, and design.

What was the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood?

The group of Pre-Raphaelites, who later called themselves as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood comprised of William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and Dante Gabriel Rosetti.

The three of them were then joined by William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens and Thomas Woolner to form the famous seven-member brotherhood. The membership then extended to twentieth-century artists like Edward Burns-Jones and John William Waterhouse.

The members of the Pre-Raphaelite movement felt that Britain’s Industrial Revolution did more harm than good. While they were not ‘antimodern’, they felt that the revolution led to a lot of problems. The members wanted to depict this reality in the form of art. Through this, they challenged the Victorian traditions which they felt were too constricting.

Parts of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement

There are two important parts of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement. The first as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which was an organized society which disbanded after four years. Later, the second part of the movement who was known only as the Pre-Raphaelites came together which lasted over two decades.

Who were famous Pre-Raphaelite painters?

Dante Rossetti

Dante Rossetti painted The Girlhood of Mary Virgin in 1848. It was one of the first Pre-Raphaelite work. In the painting, the Virgin Mary is at home with her mother.

The Girlhood of Mary Virgin

There is a noticeable flatness in the painting. This defies everything Victorian which is known for giving careful attention to minute details like depth and the color tones.

William Morris

William Morris was a social activist who also happened to be a textile designer, poet, novelist, and translator. He was associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement.


some of his famous paintings were Strawberry Thief, Self-portrait, Acanthus and Saint Cecelia. 

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1st Baronet ARA was an artist. He was part of Pre-Raphaelites.

The birth of Pegasus and Chryasor

Some of his artworks were The Wheel of Fortune, The Baleful Head, King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid, The Birth of Pegasus and Chrysaor and Atlas Turned to Stone. 

Elizabeth Siddal

Elizabeth Siddal was an English model, poet, and artist. She was a model for artists of the Brotherhood, including Walter Deverell, William Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais.

She was married to Dante Rossetti for whom she modeled too. Some of her famous works include Pippa Passes, Clerk Saunders, Madonna and Child and Ladies’ Lament. 

John William Waterhouse

John William Waterhouse was a famous artist who was part of the second stage of the movement. He continued to work as an artist even after the breakup of the Brotherhood.

The Lady of the Shallot

One of his most famous paintings is The Lady of the Shallot which was based on the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Other works include Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May, Boreas, Echo and Narcissus, A Mermaid.

Evelyn de Morgan

Evelyn de Morgan was a follower of Burne-Jones. She was an English painter. The artwork symbolized spirituality mythology, Biblical and literary themes. Women were featured numerous times in her paintings.

Helen of Troy

some of her paintings were Medea, Helen of Troy, The Love Potion, The Gilded Cage and Aurora Triumphans.

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