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Movements, Styles, and Tendencies The Pre-Raphaelite Movement
The Pre-Raphaelite Movement Collage

The Pre-Raphaelite Movement

Started: 1848

Ended: 1890

The Pre-Raphaelite Movement Timeline

Quotes

"A man is born an artist as a hippopotamus is born a hippopotamus; and you can no more make yourself one than you can make yourself a giraffe."
John Ruskin
"Art made by the people for the people, as a joy to the maker and the user."
William Morris
"I mean by a picture a beautiful romantic dream of something that never was, never will be - in a light better than any light that ever shone - in a land no one can define, or remember, only desire."
Edward Burne-Jones
"There is material enough in a single flower for the ornament of a score of cathedrals."
John Ruskin
"To have read the greatest works of any great poet, to have beheld or heard the greatest works of any great painter or musician, is a possession added to the best things of life."
Algernon Charles Swinburne
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
William Morris
"Only this is true, that beauty is very beautiful, and softens, and inspires, and rouses, and lifts up, and never fails."
Edward Burne-Jones
"I have said as much as that the aim of art was to destroy the curse of labour by making work the pleasurable satisfaction of our impulse towards energy, and giving to that energy hope of producing something worth its exercise."
William Morris
"The more materialistic science becomes, the more angels shall I paint. Their wings are my protest in favor of the immortality of the soul."
Edward Burne-Jones
"Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty"
John Ruskin
"I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few."
William Morris
"This seclusion of the artist with his work, sometimes misconceived as a selfish thing, is in truth as needful a tool as any, if a vision is to be made clear to others."
Georgiana Burne-Jones
"I believe the right question to ask, respecting all ornament, is simply this; was it done with enjoyment, was the carver happy while he was about it?"
John Ruskin
"My work is the embodiment of dreams in one form or another."
William Morris
"go to Nature in all singleness of heart, and walk with her laboriously and trustingly, having no other thoughts but how best to penetrate her meaning, and remember her instructions; rejecting nothing, selecting nothing, and scorning nothing; believing all things to be right and good, and rejoicing always in the truth"
John Ruskin
"Women are important in the Pre-Raphaelite movement. But while their faces are seen everywhere- in oil paintings, watercolors, drawings, - their voices are never heard."
Jan Marsh

KEY ARTISTS

Dante Gabriel RossettiDante Gabriel Rossetti
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William Holman HuntWilliam Holman Hunt
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John Everett MillaisJohn Everett Millais
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William MorrisWilliam Morris
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Edward Burne-JonesEdward Burne-Jones
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Julia Margaret CameronJulia Margaret Cameron
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"We sympathise 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"

The Pre-Raphaelites Signature

Synopsis

The Pre-Raphaelites opposed the dominance of the British Royal Academy, which championed a narrow range of idealized or moral subjects and conventional definitions of beauty drawn from Renaissance and ancient classical art. In contrast, the Pre-Raphaelites were inspired by the "pre-Raphaelite" period, that is, the centuries preceding the Italian High Renaissance. They believed painters before the Renaissance provided a model for depicting nature and the human body realistically, rather than idealistically, and that collective guilds of medieval craftspeople offered an alternative vision of artistic community to mid-19th-century industrialized arts.

Pre-Raphaelite regard for pre-industrial life should not be confused with being fully antimodern. Members of the group believed that Britain's Industrial Revolution had led to many social and political ills, but they determined that these modern realities (e.g. poverty and prostitution) were worthy subjects for art. They believed in challenging Victorian moralism and that modern life could be renewed by spiritualism, artistic freedom, and poetry. The Pre-Raphaelite movement is best understood as having two distinct parts: the first and principal part, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, was an organized society that disbanded after only four years; the second, known simply as the Pre-Raphaelites or Pre-Raphaelitism, was a larger and much more diffuse movement that lasted for over two more decades. Although it began with painting, Pre-Raphaelitism had a significant impact on other modern arts, influencing literature, illustration, and design. Artists directly connected to the group were major figures in Symbolism, the Arts and Crafts movement, and early fine art photography.

Key Ideas

The Pre-Raphaelites rejected not only the British Royal Academy's preference for Victorian subjects and styles, but also its teaching methods. They believed that rote learning had replaced truth and experience. Theirs was one of the first major challenges to "official" art, and their institutional critique is a crucial piece of the history of modern art in Britain.
Above all, Pre-Raphaelitism espoused naturalism: the detailed study of nature by the artist and fidelity to its appearance, even when this risked showing ugliness. It also named a preference for natural forms as the basis for patterns and decoration that offered an antidote to the industrial designs of the machine age.
As part of their reaction to the negative impact of industrialization, Pre-Raphaelites turned to the medieval period as a stylistic model and as an ideal for the synthesis of art and life in the applied arts. Their revival of medieval styles, stories, and methods of production greatly influenced the development of the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau design movements.

Beginnings

The Pre-Raphaelite Movement Image

Roots in Romanticism

The Pre-Raphaelite Movement grew out of several principal developments tied to Romanticism in early-19th-century Britain. The first was the reaction to industrialization, which had expanded at a feverish pace since the late-18th century, making Britain by far the most technologically and mechanically advanced nation on earth by the 1830s. But with industrialization came an influx of laborers from the countryside who were crammed into dirty, polluted, and unsanitary housing and working conditions in the growing cities, where an increase in crime was also evident. Government regulation had failed to keep up with these rapid changes, and Romantic critics sought ways to expose such changes and ameliorate the situation. Artists and architects such as Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, who was responsible for all the interior designs of the new Houses of Parliament (1836-60), advocated a return to the Gothic style and the supposed healthful, green, and moral environment of the medieval era, which they viewed as the antithesis of the industrial age. Pugin's Contrasts (1836) and The True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (1841) proved enormously influential in promoting the Gothic Revival for the next several decades.

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The Pre-Raphaelite Movement Overview Continues

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Cite this page

Content compiled and written by Anna Souter

Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Rachel Furnari

" Overview and Analysis". [Internet]. . TheArtStory.org
Content compiled and written by Anna Souter
Edited and revised, with Synopsis and Key Ideas added by Rachel Furnari
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