Did you know this about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood?

24th February 2019

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The group was made up of English painters, poets and critics. Joining the three founders were four more members; William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. This formed the seven members which were known as the Brotherhood. 

The principles of this group have been influential for artists; notably the first wave of artists were Ford Madox Brown, Arthur Hughes and Marie Spartali Stillman. 

It was this original group in 1848 that inspired a later more medieval strain of the group which included Edward Burne-Jones. Rossetti in particular had a huge impact on Burne-Jones, William Morris and friends. 

  1. The Brotherhood was a direct response to the work of Raphael. The classical poses he favoured created elegant art and they believed this had a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art. The name therefore… Pre-Raphaelite. 
  2. The Brotherhood wanted to focus on reviving art to the Quattrocento Italian art. Full of intense vibrant colours, minute detailing and complex compositions. That art is truly beautiful; if you ever get the chance to see any of the Pre-Raphaelite artists art, you should seize it! There’s some pieces in the Tate in London; if you visit, be sure to look out for them.
  3. The published their own periodical; The Germ. They used this to promote their ideas. Though remembered for their art, this publication included ideas and concerns which allowed them to spread the message of the group to a wider society. This was a great way to spread their message – there was no social media viral movement in those days remember!
  4. The movement was founded in John Millais’s parents house on Gower Street in London. In attendance; Millais, Rossetti and Holman Hunt. 
  5. The Brotherhood actually intended to keep the existence of the group secret of the Royal Academy. 
  6. The Brotherhood was much more than a period or aspect of art. It was a social, political and cultural phenomenon and rebellion. 
  7. The medieval strain of the group which included Burne-Jones and Morris was at a time where mass industrialisation was occurring; the group were passionate about using traditional methods of craft by traditional and skilled craftsmen.
  8. Because the movement was supposed to be secret. The founding members signed paintings with, ‘’PRB’’ along with their own signature. They then refused to explain the initials and this piqued the interest of the art critics and buyers of the time. 
  9. 1848 – the year the Brotherhood was founded, became known as the, ‘Year of Revolution.’ Beginning in France and spreading across Europe. The cause was the political and social dissatisfaction and unrest of the time. The working and middle classes wanted freedom of speech and democracy.
  10. John Everett Millais – one of the founding members of the PRB was gifted from a young age. Becoming aware of his talents when he was aged nine, his mother moved them to London and he was granted early entry to the Royal Academy when he was only eleven. He was the youngest student ever to be admitted. 
  11. You can’t speak about the Brotherhood and their work without mentioning the women. Their models and muses that dominate their work have caused them to be known as ultimate Pre Raphaelite women. This gains us an insight as to what their ideal beauty looked like at the time. Lizzie Siddal and Jane Morris were amongst these women and feature in many of the paintings. Siddal was a muse for many of the artists; notably her husband’s in particular. She married Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1860.

We hope you enjoyed this blog and learnt more about the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood. There’s so much to read and learn about the movement that we can’t possibly include it all in one blog. However – keep your eyes peeled for further updates on our blog and social media; we love to post on Instagram and Twitter!