Founded in 1848 as a secret society, the Pre-Raphaelites rejected classical ideals and the dominant artistic genre painting of their era for what they saw as a more spiritual, sincere, and naturalisticapproach. Inaugurated by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, they evolved into a seven-member “brotherhood” that included poets and critics as well as painters.
Moving away from the classical compositions exemplified by Raphael (hence the group’s name), the Pre-Raphaelites rather turned to medieval culture and the jewel-like colors of Quattrocento art for inspiration. Their principal themes were initially religious, but also included subjects from literature and poetry, as exemplified by Sir John Everett Millais’ famous Ophelia, drawn from Shakespeare's Hamlet.Inspired by the theories of John Ruskin, they were also committed to the close study of nature.
This book presents key works from the Pre-Raphaelite group to introduce their reactionary principles, their dazzling colors, their interest in love, death, and nature, and their extensive influence on latter-day Symbolism and beyond.
About the Author
Heather Birchall organised a number of major exhibitions at the Victoria & Albert Museum and Tate Britain in London before becoming Curator of Historic Fine Art at the Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester. She was a member of the National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS) until 2014. Today she lives in San Francisco. A specialist in Victorian art, she has contributed to books and written articles about John Ruskin, the relationship between painting and photography, and British watercolors.