The Pre-Raphaelite Movement

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The Pre-Raphaelite Movement, also known as the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, was a group of seven English artists who strove to transmit a message of artistic renewal and moral reform by imbuing their art with seriousness, sincerity, and truth to nature. It began in 1848, and although there are seven members, the three main figures are Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais. The Brotherhood emulated the art of late medieval and early Renaissance Europe until the time of Raphael, hence the name Pre-Raphaelite.

The art of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement is characterized by keen observation of the natural world and depiction of subjects that lead the viewer to contemplate moral issues of justice, piety, familial relationships, and the struggle of purity against corruption.

As the members of the Brotherhood gained experience, their individual identities and styles became more prominent. Experience did not serve to unify the Brotherhood and promote its founding ideals, and by the early 1850s, the Brotherhood dissolved.

The second generation of Pre-Raphaelites consisted of divinity students Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, mentored by Rossetti, whom they met in 1856. Their work was part of the precursor to the Aesthetic movement. As their works became more decorative, the Pre-Raphaelites became increasingly interested in the decorative arts. Producing physical objects became important as a response to the Industrial Revolution and mass production; there was interest in reviving the workshop practices of medieval Europe, considered a paragon of spirituality and artistic integrity.

Works Cited

Meagher, Jennifer. The Pre-Raphaelites. Essay. Department of European Paintings. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. October 2004.

Newman, Steve. The Pre-Raphaelites: One of the Most Important Artistic Movements of the 19th Century. July 2018.