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One of my very favorite artistic movements is that of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The Brotherhood was founded by William Holman Hunt , John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1848. These three were later joined by William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens and Thomas Woolner. Their collective intention was to return to a worship of detail and complexity within their compositions. These seven rebels found themselves extremely disillusioned with the direction that art was taking. They wanted to return to the art of late medieval and early Renaissance Europe, an art vastly different from the work put forth by their contemporaries. The subject matter of the work of the Pre-Raphaelites is mostly that of a noble, religious, or moralizing nature. The Brotherhood published a periodical called ‘The Germ,’ which explained their doctrine, mainly


1. To have genuine ideas to express


2. To study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them;


3. To sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parodying and learned by rote;


4. And, most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues


I love Pre-Raphaelite art because it always feels like it is telling a story. Its themes are steeped in mythology, literature, and a worship of the complex and beautiful. I remember the first time I saw ‘Ophelia,’ at the Tate in London. The detail of the picture and the intricacy of the look on Ophelia’s face, a mixture of surprise, fear, and madness overcame me. Millais was able to capture her emotion as she sank and his portrait explained Ophelia to me better than reading Hamlet eight times. I think this shows how various mediums of artistic creation can explain each other, and how collectively they can add to our understanding of a greater emotion.


 


 



Lady Lilith, 1867
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (British, 1828–1882)
Watercolor and gouache on paper



Mrs. William Morris (Jane Burden, 1840–1914)
Dante Gabriel Rossetti 



The Love Song, 1868–77
Sir Edward Burne-Jones  (Not technically one of the brotherhood, but too good to miss!)




 


Portia (Kate Dolan), 1886
Sir John Everett Millais


 



 


Ophelia


John Everett Millais



The Black Brunswicker


John Everett Millais



The Bridesmaid


John Everett Millais



 


Huguenot Lovers on St. Bartholomew's Day


John Everett Millais



'The Bridge of Sighs'


John Everett Millais



La Ghirlandata


Dante Gabriel Rossetti



Proserpine


Dante Gabriel Rossetti



The Beloved


Dante Gabriel Rossetti



A Sea Spell


Dante Gabriel Rossetti



Beata Beatrix


Dante Gabriel Rossetti



The Day Dream


Dante Gabriel Rossetti


Dante Gabriel Rossetti http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/praf/hd_praf.htm

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