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Pre Raphaelites

Emo teenagers drag art back to the future.

18481860

Emo teenagers drag art back to the future.

Leave it to a bunch of teenagers to decide that Raphael ruined art. The strange, insular little movement known as the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood began in 1848 in the home of a young painter named , or more accurately, his parent's house. Millais was a student at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where he met the 20 year old poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the painter William Holman Hunt. The three friends were romantic idealists in the way that all art students should be, and in their minds art was at it's most pure when it came from the heart — before all that show-offy Mannerism kicked off at the end of the High Renaissance.

To the Pre Raphaelites, the bright colors, crisp lines, honorable men and demure women of late medieval and early renaissance art was the most sincere and noble form of painting. Their imperative was moral — to throw back to a peaceful time before the industrialization and social unrest of 1800's Europe. In their early meetings, the group laid out four principles to guide them in a quest to bring Romanticism back to art. The principles were:

  • to have genuine ideas to express;
  • to study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them;
  • to sympathize with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parading and learned by rote; and
  • most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues.

So why does history remember the preoccupation of a few emotional art students? Quite simply, because they were fantastic at public relations. Starting in 1849, all three artists showed their work at the Royal Academy, and signed their paintings with the initials PRB. The next year they started a magazine called The Germ, which was a collection of mostly terrible, lovelorn poetry — but print sticks, and to this day you can read their musings on death, loneliness and beauty. Indeed their exposure, if not always positive, grew faster than they were ready for. The famous author Charles Dickens hated their work, and blasted Millais' painting 'Christ in the House of His Parents' for being blasphemous and ugly. And after his initial praise, the PRB lost the support of noted art critic John Ruskin after Millais effectively stole Ruskin's wife.

Like a band that make it big before it's ready for fame, the PRB effectively disbanded by 1853. But their dreamy, lovelorn style had struck a chord, and other artists, including Edward Burne-Jones and Thomas Woolner would continue the style, which would eventually influence artists like Gustave Moreau and the soon-to-be Symbolist movement.

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The Germ, Vol.2

The Germ, Vol.2

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Thomas Woolner

More terrible poems by the Pre-Raphaelite boyband/brotherhood.

Self Portrait

Self Portrait

Dante Gabriel Rossetti1847
Isabella

Isabella

John Everett Millais1849
The Childhood of Mary Virgin

The Childhood of Mary Virgin

Dante Gabriel Rossetti1849
The Germ, Vol.1

The Germ, Vol.1

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Thomas Woolner

Horrible love poems and the pontification of teenagers.

1850
Christ in the House of His Parents

Christ in the House of His Parents

John Everett Millais1849-1850
The Annunciation

The Annunciation

Dante Gabriel Rossetti1850
A Huguenot on St Bartholomew's Day

A Huguenot on St Bartholomew's Day

John Everett Millais1852
Ophelia

Ophelia

John Everett Millais1851-1852
The Awakening Conscience

The Awakening Conscience

William Holman Hunt1853
The Flight of Madeline and Porphyro

The Flight of Madeline and Porphyro

William Holman Hunt1847-1857
Self-Portrait

Self-Portrait

Simeon Solomon1859
Babylon hath been a golden cup

Babylon hath been a golden cup

Simeon Solomon1859
Theseus and the Minotaur

Theseus and the Minotaur

Edward Burne-Jones1861
Guinevere and Iseult: Cartoon for Stained Glass

Guinevere and Iseult: Cartoon for Stained Glass

William Morris1862
Angel of the Resurrection: Cartoon for Stained Glass

Angel of the Resurrection: Cartoon for Stained Glass

William Morris1862
Dante’s First Meeting with Beatrice

Dante’s First Meeting with Beatrice

Simeon Solomon1859-1863
The Merciful Knight

The Merciful Knight

Edward Burne-Jones1863
Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene

Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene

Simeon Solomon1864
Il Dolce far Niente

Il Dolce far Niente

William Holman Hunt1866
A Prelude by Bach

A Prelude by Bach

Simeon Solomon1868
Venus Verticordia

Venus Verticordia

Dante Gabriel Rossetti1863-1868
Bianca

Bianca

William Holman Hunt1868-1869
Pastoral Lovers

Pastoral Lovers

Simeon Solomon1869
Phyllis and Demophoon

Phyllis and Demophoon

Edward Burne-Jones1870
Rabbi Carrying the Law

Rabbi Carrying the Law

Simeon Solomon1871
The Bower Meadow

The Bower Meadow

Dante Gabriel Rossetti1872
Lady Lilith

Lady Lilith

Dante Gabriel Rossetti1866-1873
Sancta Lilias

Sancta Lilias

Dante Gabriel Rossetti1874
The angel with the serpent

The angel with the serpent

Evelyn De Morgan1870-1875
The Beguiling of Merlin

The Beguiling of Merlin

Edward Burne-Jones1872-1877
The Love Song

The Love Song

Edward Burne-Jones1868-1877
Night and Sleep

Night and Sleep

Evelyn De Morgan1878
Pygmalion and the Image — The Godhead Fires

Pygmalion and the Image — The Godhead Fires

Edward Burne-Jones1878
Pygmalion and the Image — The Heart Desires

Pygmalion and the Image — The Heart Desires

Edward Burne-Jones1878
The Day Dream (Study)

The Day Dream (Study)

Dante Gabriel Rossetti1878
The Annunciation

The Annunciation

Edward Burne-Jones1879
The Golden Stairs

The Golden Stairs

Edward Burne-Jones1876-1880
Portrait of Lady Frances Balfour

Portrait of Lady Frances Balfour

Edward Burne-Jones1881
The Angel of Death

The Angel of Death

Evelyn De Morgan1881
Dante Gabriel RossettiPortrait of Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Querulous poet founds art movement

1828-1882
Proserpine

Proserpine

Dante Gabriel Rossetti1882
Portrait of Georgiana Burne Jones

Portrait of Georgiana Burne Jones

Edward Burne-Jones1883
The Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune

Edward Burne-Jones1883
King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid

King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid

Edward Burne-Jones1880-1884
Thomas WoolnerPortrait of Thomas Woolner

Thomas Woolner

Sculptor turned poet, Pre-Raphaelite turned Neoclassicist

1825-1892
The Garden of Opportunity

The Garden of Opportunity

Evelyn De Morgan1892
John Everett MillaisPortrait of John Everett Millais

John Everett Millais

Prodigy, Pre-Raphaelite, sellout?

1829-1896
William MorrisPortrait of William Morris

William Morris

Can you run a socialist company in a capitalist economy?

1834-1896
Cassandra

Cassandra

Evelyn De Morgan1898
Edward Burne-JonesPortrait of Edward Burne-Jones

Edward Burne-Jones

A return to stained-glass grace

1833-1898
The Storm Spirits

The Storm Spirits

Evelyn De Morgan1900
Our Lady of Peace

Our Lady of Peace

Evelyn De Morgan1902
Simeon SolomonPortrait of Simeon Solomon

Simeon Solomon

Flamboyant, unrepentant, and fabulous

1840-1905
The Prisoner

The Prisoner

Evelyn De Morgan1907
William Holman HuntPortrait of William Holman Hunt

William Holman Hunt

Stubborn commitment = beauty

1827-1910
The Vision

The Vision

Evelyn De Morgan1914
Evelyn De MorganPortrait of Evelyn De Morgan

Evelyn De Morgan

"Art is eternal, but life is short…"

1855-1919

Next movement: RealismTruth, accuracy, and the absence of personal bias

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