PreRaphaelite Brotherhood Essay Research Paper A group

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood Essay, Research Paper

A group of young British

painters who banded together in 1848 in reaction against what they conceived to

be the unimaginative and artificial historical painting of the Royal Academy

and who purportedly sought to express a new moral seriousness and sincerity in

their works. They were inspired by Italian

art of the 14th and 15th centuries, and their adoption of the name

Pre-Raphaelite expressed their admiration for what they saw as the direct and

uncomplicated depiction of nature typical of Italian painting before the High

Renaissance and, particularly, before the time of Raphael. Although the

Brotherhood’s active life lasted less than 10 years, its influence on painting

in Britain, and ultimately on the decorative arts and interior design, was

profound. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was formed in 1848 by

three Royal Academy students, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who was a gifted poet as

well as a painter, William Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais, all under 25.

The painter James Collinson, the painter and critic F.G.Stephens, the sculptor

Thomas Woolner, and the critic William Michael Rossetti (Dante Gabriel’s

brother) joined them by invitation. The painters William Dyce and Ford Madox

Brown were also notable practitioners of the Pre-Raphaelite style. The Brotherhood began immediately to produce highly

convincing and significant works. Their pictures of religious and medieval

subjects emulated the deep religious feeling and naive, unadorned directness of

15th-century Florentine and Sienese painting. The style that Hunt and Millaisevolved featured sharp and

brilliant lighting, a clear atmosphere, and a near-photographic reproduction of

minute details. They also frequently introduced a private poetic symbolism into their

representations of Biblical subjects and medieval literary themes. Rossetti’s work differed

from that of the others in its use of blurred lines, a more sculptural and

suggestive chiaroscuro, and a hazy, dreamlike atmosphere. Vitality and freshness of

vision are the most admirable qualities of these early Pre-Raphaelite

paintings. The Brotherhood at first exhibited together

anonymously, signing all their paintings with the monogram PRB. When their

identity and youth were discovered in 1850, their work was harshly criticized

by the novelist Charles Dickens, among others, not only for its disregard of academic

ideals of beauty but also for its apparent irreverence in treating religious

themes with an uncompromising realism. Nevertheless, the leading art

critic of the day, John Ruskin, stoutly defended Pre-Raphaelite art, and the

members of the group were never without patrons. The members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood had

ceased to exhibit together by 1854 and soon went their individual ways, but

their style had a wide influence and gained many imitators during the 1850s and

early ’60s. In the late 1850s Dante Gabriel Rossetti became associated with the

younger painters Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris and moved closer to a

sensual and almost mystical romanticism. Millais, the most technically gifted

painter of the group, went on to become an academic success. Hunt alone pursued

the same style throughout most of his career and remained true to

Pre-Raphaelite principles. Pre-Raphaelitism in its later stage is epitomized by

the paintings of Burne-Jones, in which a lyrical if slightly insipid medievalism is

given hauntingly sensuous overtones.