The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (later known as the Pre-Raphaelites) was a group of English painters, referred to both in art and literature of the second half of the 19th century, that was founded as a protest against the prudish traditions of Victorian England.
The name "Pre-Raphaelites" refers to their respect for the Florentine artists of the early Renaissance active "before Raphael": Perugino, Giovanni Bellini, Fra Angelico.
The Pre-Raphaelites revered clean bright colors, especially red and juicy green, the color of the lake water and herbs. The silhouettes of people on their canvases are floating, they have something of the saints on their faces, the hair is dissolved. The female subjects in their works look like the ladies of the knights: light-skinned, with long golden hair, dainty elongated silhouettes, big eyes, and flowing dresses.
Inspired by Shakespeare
Like the early Renaissance artists, they mostly painted religious scenes and portraits of beautiful women, often on the background of landscapes. Finally, the public fell in love with the Pre-Raphaelite paintings, and this was because of the Shakespearean motives. The most popular one is "Ophelia" by John Everett Millais (1852), who remains one of the most beloved artists in England.
To distinguish the Pre-Raphaelites from the artists of the Renaissance, it is necessary to pay attention to the brightness of the paintings: the Pre-Raphaelite colors were richer, and their paintings preserved better. It is noticeable that they were painted in the 19th century.
The close relationship in the Brotherhood
The relationships in the Brotherhood were close, almost familial: the artists often fell in love with the sisters of their comrades. James Collinson had some engagement to Rossetti’s sister Christina. Dante Rossetti met his future wife, the poetess Elizabeth Siddal, in the Millais' studio ("Ophelia" was painted from her). The poetess was a constant model of many Pre-Raphaelites. She featured prominently in Rossetti's early female portraits, such as "Paolo and Francesca da Rimini", "Dantis Amor" ("Dante’s Love"), "Dante’s Vision of Rachel and Leah".
Famous Pre-Raphaelite artists
John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, James Collinson, Madox Brown, Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, Arthur Hughes, Walter Crane, John William Waterhouse, William Holman Hunt
The most famous paintings
- John Everett Millais "Ophelia", 1852. It was one of the first works on Shakespearean motives, after which the style was widely recognized by British public.
- John Everett Millais "The Vale of Rest", 1858-1859, Tate Britain, London, United Kingdom.
- John William Waterhouse "The Lady of Shallot", 1888, Tate Britain, London, UK. It is one of his most famous works, the epitome of the style of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
- John William Waterhouse "Hylas and the Nymphs", 1896
- William Holman Hunt "The Lady of Shallot", 1905.
Here's the story!
British TV drama serial "Desperate Romantics" describing the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was noted by critics for the actors and the artist-dresser's work.