Pre-Raphaelites – Group of 19th-century English Poets, Painters, and Critics

There was a group of 19th-century English poets, painters, and critics called Pre-Raphaelites who reacted against the neoclassical conventions of academic art and Victorian materialism by producing sincere, quasi-religious works. The group took inspiration from the medieval and early Renaissance painters up to the time of the Italian painter Raphael.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood:

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was established in 1848. Its major figure was the poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. This group was made of other members such as William Michael Rossetti, sculptor and poet Thomas Woolner; painters John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt; painter James Collinson; and art critic Frederick George Stephens.

The brotherhood disapproved of the imitative historic and genre painting of their time. They tried to revive art through a simpler, more positive vision. For example, in portrait painting, the group disdained the formal structure and somber colors favored by the Royal Academy.

They got inspiration from the religious and scrupulously detailed art of the Middle Ages. Pre-Raphaelite art became more distinct for its blend of romantic, archaic, and moralistic qualities. The renovated English art critic John Ruskin was an avid supporter of this movement.

The Works of the Pre-Raphaelites in Literature:

Originally, the movement was aimed at reviving simplicity, freshness and freedom in painting, but soon it touched the literature and sculpture. The works of the Pre-Raphaelites in literature may be considered as a recurring phase of the Romantic Movement. If you look back to the Middle Ages, the school seems to be parallel to the Oxford movement in the Anglican church and a Gothic revival. In 1850 the members published a periodical called The Germ , in which some of Rossetti's initial literary work included.