views updated May 17 2018

Pre-Raphaelites (1848–c.1854). The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, also known by the initials PRB, was a short-lived, essentially English, association of seven artists, including Holman Hunt, Millais, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Disliking what they felt was the superficiality of 16th-cent. Italian art, they sought to recapture the direct religious sincerity of pre-Renaissance painting. The movement was very literary, painting deeply symbolic historical, poetic, or religious subjects with great attention to detail, using pure, bright colours. ‘The Pre-Raphaelites had but one idea—to present on canvas what they saw in Nature’ (Millais).

The work of the Brotherhood was, at first, well received. Only when the meaning of the initials PRB, on their paintings, became understood was there a protest, the brothers accused of blasphemy and of setting themselves up as better than Raphael. The influential art critic John Ruskin intervened on their behalf in 1851, and their reputation began to improve. Other artists adopted the brotherhood technique so that many paintings thought of as typically Pre-Raphaelite were not in fact painted by the founders. By the early 1850s the brotherhood was in decline and had dissolved by 1855. Rossetti founded a second brotherhood at Oxford with Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris (c.1860s–90s).

June Cochrane

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

views updated May 29 2018

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) Name adopted in 1848 by a group of young English painters who joined forces to revitalize British art. The most prominent members of the PRB were Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and Holman Hunt. They attracted fierce criticism for their rejection of Raphael but were helped by the support of John Ruskin. By 1853 the PRB had largely dissolved but Rossetti maintained the name, and under his influence a second wave of Pre-Raphaelite painting began in the 1860s, which lasted well into the 20th century. See also Morris


views updated May 29 2018

Pre-Raphaelite a member of a group of English 19th-century artists, including Holman Hunt, Millais, and D. G. Rossetti, who consciously sought to emulate the simplicity and sincerity of the work of Italian artists from before the time of Raphael. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in 1848 by seven young English artists and writers as a reaction against the slick sentimentality and academic convention of much Victorian art.