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Home >> Popular Painting Styles >> Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was an influential group of mid-nineteenth-century avante- garde painters who with their definite ideologies opposed what they considered to be the mechanistic approach towards art adopted by the Mannerist artists. They believed that the Mannerists blindly followed the Great masters Raphael and Michelangelo, without understanding the context of their work.

Pet Peeve-The Mannerists

To understand the works of the Pre-Raphaelites it is important to know about the style that they were opposing. Artificial color and unrealistic spatial proportions characterized mannerism paintings, which the Pre-Raphaelites abhorred. The focus was on the ornamentation and figures were almost always exaggeratedly elongated and presented in complex poses to make them visually pleasing. Some of the mannerism paintings actually manage to unsettle you and more often than not they come across ass bizarre. In fact Mannerist portraits are distinguished by chilly elegance, perfunctory realism, and meticulous attention to detail.

The Brotherhood

The Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood was founded in 1849 by William Holman Hunt, D.G. Rossetti, John Everett Millais, William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Thomas Woolner, and F. G. Stephens. Although these young art revolutionaries never published a manifesto, they intended to change the face of 19 th century art by

•  Ignoring all the established technicalities of Painting

•  Focusing on humble day to day themes rather than choosing larger than life ones

•  Following Ruskin's ideology of Realism

•  Adopting literary devices for the painting medium (i.e. allegory)

•  Find subjects from the works of Literary giants like Shakespeare

•  Keenly following each other's art

•  Emphasizing on tone and shadows

•  Using colors and strokes in such a way that they appear flat

These principles were obviously not the written rule and the members had the choice to interpret them in their own way, since the Brotherhood wished to emphasise the personal responsibility of individual artists to determine their own ideas and method of depiction. These painters greatly believed in persoonal freedom of expression and therefore admired the philosophy of Romanticism, they thought that freedom and responsibility were inseparable. However, the Pre-Raphaelites undoubtedly defined themselves as a reform movement, created a distinct name for their form of art, and published a periodical, The Germ, to promote their ideas

Famous Paintings of the Brotherhood

  • Christ In the House of His Parents by John Everett Millais
  • Medea by Evelyn De Morgan
  • The Holy Family by James Collinson
  • The Hireling Shepherd by William Holman Hunt
  • Persephone by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Dissolution of the Brotherhood

Millais's painting "Christ in the House of His Parents", found harsh critics in many personalities,most notably Charles Dickens. They considered the painting to be considered blasphemous Their style was attacked as backward and words like “ugly” and “jarring to the eye” were used. Not being able to bear such criticism the group decided to disbanded after this controversy . Artists who had worked in the style still followed these techniques but they no longer signed works PRB (as they used to as the members of the group).

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