The Founding of the P.R.B.In 1843, William Holman Hunt was a sixteen year old boy who planned on being a painter, even if his conservative father disapproved. Hunt was attending a prizegiving ceremony at the Royal Academy, England's bastion the painting arts. One of the award winners was a fourteen year old student at the Royal Academy, John Everett Millais.
Millais had entered the Royal Academy at ten years of age and was the resident "boy genius" of the English art world. In 1844 Millais and Hunt actually met each other and became friends. Together they talked about art and painting. Under the influence of John Ruskin's new book Modern Painters which instructed the artist to "go to nature," the young artists began to formulate a new approach to painting. An approach directly in conflict with the traditions of the Royal Academy.
In 1847 Millais and Hunt met Dante Gabriel Rossetti who was also matriculating at the Royal Academy. Rossetti was to become the spark that ignited the "new approach." Through his own special alchemy, Rossetti would, with the help of his new friends, create a new movement that would permeate Victorian culture altering it unalterably.
In March 1848 Rossetti stopped his studies at the Royal Academy and for five months, until August, he studied in the studio of the painter Ford Madox Brown. After this brief experiment, Rossetti and Hunt shared a studio together. Soon Rossetti, Hunt and Millais, all under the age of twenty-one, were hard at work plotting their artistic revolt against the British School of Painting.
To this group of three four more "brothers" were added: The sculptor Thomas Woolner who, at 22, was the oldest member; Frederick George Stephens was an art critic; James Collinson was an established professional painter; and William Michael Rossetti worked for the government. By 1850 the P.R.B. was exhibiting work at the Royal Academy and had established an official publication called The Germ.
William Rossetti, the official Secretary of the P.R.B. outlined the principles of the group.
In introducing his book on the movement, The Pre-Raphaelite Dream, art historian William Gaunt writes that the story the Pre-Raphaelites is one of:
[B]affled idealists in a material age, seeking something they could scarcely define-- a past, a future or both in one-- certainly anything except the present in which they lived.
If you look close enough, these Pre-Raphaelites seem to prefigure in some curious ways the American Beat Generation movement almost one hundred years later.
Ophelia by John Everett Millais (1851-52)
|Ford Madox Brown
Brown was never a formal member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (P.R.B.) but D.G. Rossetti studied with him and became his friend. Brown studied painting in Europe and returned to England in 1845. In 1848 D. G. Rossetti took painting lessons from Brown. Brown contributed poetry, "The Love of Beauty" (sonnet) and an essay, "On the Mechanism of an Historical Picture" (unfinished) to The Germ
|Lucy Madox Brown
1843- 1894. Painter.
She was the eldest of Ford Madox Brown's three surviving children. Lucy posed for her father from an early age and later acted as his secretary and studio assistant. She began painting herself in 1868 under the guidance of her father. Her first exhibit was in 1869 and during her career she appeared largely as a watercolorist with figure compositions drawn from modern life, literature and history. In 1874 she married William Rossetti and had four children in the next seven years. After becoming a mother she painted little and from 1885 showed signs of respiratory disease. Radical in her political and cultural interests, she was a signatory of the national petition for women's suffrage and wrote an unpublished biography of her father.
"I mean by a picture a beautiful romantic dream of something that never was, never will be." Wrote a story "The Cousins" published in Oxford and Cambridge Magazine. Burne-Jones was part of the second wave of Pre-Raphaelitism.
Originally a prostitute, Cornforth became a model and a paramour of D.G. Rossetti . Described as "blond and buxom" she represented the polar opposite of Elizabeth Siddal. Cornforth, one commentator writes was "the very incarnation of voluptuous earthiness."
|Evelyn de Morgan
She came from an artistic background, her Uncle was mid-level Pre Raphaelite painter John Roddam Spencer Stanhope. De Morgan's family did not support Evelyn's artistic talents so she studied in secret until at the age of 15 they allowed her to attend the Slade School where she became one of their earliest female students. At the Slade School de Morgan proved herself to be a prize winning pupil. Later in 1857 she made her first visit to Italy where she studied under her uncle. De Morgan's first exhibit was at the Dudley Gallery in 1876 with St Catherine of Alexandria and later that year she was invited to show at the Grosvenor Gallery. In 1887 she married potter William de Morgan, who was known for his work with William Morris. The couple shared a deep interest in spiritual matters which would show in both of their works. Evelyn's subjects consisted of allegorical figures and legends containing moral messages such as the painting The Worship of Mammon.
She studied at the Crystal Palace School of Art and the Royal Academy from 1897-1900. Her exhibition debut at the Royal Academy in 1896 was a black and white design, and her earliest work was in illustration. From 1899 she also exhibited large set-piece oils such as The Pale Complexion of True Love recalling the early productions of Millais and Hunt. From 1902 she had a studio in Kensington and pursued a dual career as painter and illustrator. Having personal connections with the aviator Charles Rolls, she took an interest in aeroplane technology, manifested in a large memorial picture to Rolls and The Forerunner (1920) depicting Leonardo da Vinci and his model flying machine. Brickdale was the first female member of the Institute of Painters in Oils, 1902, and a member of the RWS from 1903; she also taught for some years at the Byam Shaw School of Art. In later years she also designed for stained-glass. Her professional career ended in 1938 when she suffered a stroke. She died in London in 1945.
|William Holman Hunt
Considered the most important painter of the realistic-wing of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. His "brothers" gave him the moniker "the maniac" as a tribute to his severe work habits and discipline. An 1845 self-portrait is in the City Museum and Art Gallery in Birmingham, England and an 1868 self-portrait can be found in the Uffizi in Florence, Italy.
At 10 years of age he was admitted to the Royal Academy, becoming the youngest student ever admitted. Millais met William Holman Hunt in 1847 and soon afterward Hunt introduced Millais to D.G. Rossetti.
The daughter of a stableman, D. G. Rossetti and William Morris saw her at the theater. Both men fell in love with her, however, Rossetti was already married to Elizabeth Siddal. She was a model for murals that the men where painting at Oxford. In April 1859 she married Morris but Rossetti nevertheless remained in love with his friend's wife. She has been described as "tall and long-necked, with masses of black hair and deep-set dark eyes." Rather an opposite of Fanny Cornforth.
1834-1896. Writer, Designer. Socialist.
Morris was an architect, poet, furniture designer and political activist. He co-founded the The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine (January 1856) the literary successor to The Germ. He founded The Socialist League (1884). He wrote the prose-work News From Nowhere (1891) about an ideal society that has been described as a "medieval dream-world." Morris translated The Aeneid (1875) and the Odyssey (1887). He founded a printing press, The Kelmscott Press (1890). Morris married Jane Burden in 1859.
Sister to Dante Gabriel and William Michael. Her first poems were published when she was 16. Christina wrote poetry for The Germ under the pseudonym Ellen Alleyn. In 1862 Goblin Market and Other Poems was published with illustrations by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Her life symbolizes the tension between romantic and spiritual love. She had a romance with P.R.B. member James Collinson which ended because of her religious beliefs. She also had a romance with Charles Cayley, an author, scholar and Dante translator. But this affair also was terminated for religious reasons. There is speculation that she had a romance with William Bell Scott. Ultimately she never married and never had children. Her most famous poem Goblin Market tells the tale of two sisters seduced by goblin men. One sister succumbs, the other does not. In real life Christina did not succumb to the temptations of the flesh.
|Dante Gabriel Rossetti
1828-1882. Poet. Painter.
Rossetti was the dominant figure in the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and movement. Educated at King's College School and the Royal Academy Schools, Rossetti ended his formal schooling in 1848 and shortly thereafter he and Hunt and Millais founded the P.R.B. Like his sister, Christina Rossetti was beset by the tension between the spirit and lust. However, unlike his sibling, Gabriel was perhaps more devoted to the latter. One commentator observes, "[Rossetti] is a stranger to the hesitations of a divided northern soul when it comes up against the apparent conflict of the flesh and the spirit." In 1860 he married his longtime lover and model, Elizabeth Siddal. When she died from a drug overdose Rossetti's life began a downward turn from which he never completely recovered. See Glynn Grylls' Portrait of Rossetti for a more complete picture of his relationship with Siddal and other women.
1829-1919. Writer. Critic. Biographer.
Younger brother of Dante Gabriel and Christina. Only member of the P.R.B. not directly involved as a painter. Essentially the archivist and memorist of the P.R.B. Appointed editor of The Germ. Married Ford Madox Brown's daughter Lucy in 1874. Wrote a volume of art criticism, Fine Art, Chiefly Contemporary (1867). His autobiography, Reminiscences of William Michael Rossetti was published in 1906. William worked at the Inland Revenue Department from 1845 to 1894.
|William Bell Scott
1811-1890. Poet. Painter.
Scott was early on influenced first by the Spasmodics. He was romantically involved with Christina Rossetti. However, since he was an agnostic, his relationship with Christina was doomed to failure. His posthumous Autobiographical Notes (1892) provides useful information about the P.R.B. and its members.
1833-1862. Poet. Model. Muse.
Described as the archetypal Pre-Raphaelite woman, Siddal was "discovered" working in a milliner's shop by William Allingham. She became a model for Hunt, Millais and D.G. Rossetti. Rossetti married her in 1860 but two years later, after a miscarriage, she died from a self-administered overdose of laudanum. Siddal wrote poetry and created water-colors, some of the latter can be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum in England.
|Marie Spartali Stillman
From 1864-70 she trained under Ford Madox Brown, alongside his daughters Catherine and Lucy. She was a noted 'stunner' (a good-looking woman) and sat for Dante Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones. In 1871 she married against her family's wish the American journalist and amateur artist W.J. Stillman; they had three children, one of whom died in infancy. Owing to her husband's work as a newspaper correspondent the family settled in Florence in 1878, and then Rome until 1898. Despite prolonged residences abroad, Spartali became a regular contributor to Grosvenor Gallery from 1877 until 1887, and its sucessor - the New Gallery - as well as at various venues in eastern USA. Her sustained output proves her professionalism, but little of her work seems to have sold. Her favoured subjects were literary-historical figure groups and decorative female heads preferred by patrons; landsapes and flower pieces are equally representative though less distinctive. Many of her works draw on Italian literary themes, especially Dante and Boccacio as well as depicting Italian landscape.
|Charles Algernon Swinburne
Swinburne met D. G. Rossetti at Oxford in 1857 and later the two lived together in London. More extreme in manner and in views then his friend Rossetti, Swinburne was harsh in his criticism of Victorian aesthetics and morals.
|John Lucas Tupper
William Michael Rossetti describes him as "a very capable and conscientious man, quite as earnest after truth in form and presentment as any PRB, learned in his department of art, and with a real gift for poetry." Like many other members of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, Tupper aspired to create both visual and verbal art, and in the course of his career he published poetry, art criticism, book reviews, and a treatise on art education. The 1855 Crayon contained "The Light of The World," a sonnet on William Holman Hunt's painting, which D. G. Rossetti praised.
Woolner, born in Suffolk, came to London in about 1838 where he studied sculpture under William Behnes. In 1842 he joined the Royal Academy Schools, and in 1848 he was one of the founding members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Some six years later he left for Australia to seek a wealthier life, and his Pre-Raphaelite brothers drew a famous collection of portraits of each other to send to him. Woolner proved popular in Australia, making in particular portrait medallions. He returned to England in 1857. He painted a wide variety of portraits. Among his subjects were Wordsworth, Tennyson (four times, the best in 1873), Macaulay, Browning (twice), Palmerstone, Gladstone (twice), Darwin, Huxley, Sedgewick, Kingsley, Dickens, Carlyle, Coventry and Captain Cook.
A model used by Edward Burne-Jones. She is "Phyllis" in Burne-Jones' 1870 painting "Phyllis & Demophoon." (The story is from the Roman poet Ovid.). Burne-Jones was in love with Maria. However by 1870 the affair was near collapse. The use of women models that they were in love with is a characteristic of the Pre-Raphaelites.
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A writer associated with the Pre-Raphaelites, Allingham was born in Ireland although he considered his homeland "an ungrateful soil for the cultivation of the higher belles lettres." His Collected Poems appeared in six volumes between 1883 and 1893. In 1897 a collection of D.G. Rossetti's letters to Allingham was published. Allingham has been called a link between the Pre-Raphaelites and the Celtic Twilight writers of the 1890s.
|Frank Bernard Dicksee
Dicksee came from a family of painters, and studied under his father, Thomas Francis Dicksee, for a year before entering the Royal Academy Schools in 1871. While there, he met Frederic Leighton and John Millais, establishing his ties to the Pre-Raphaelites. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1876 and became president in 1924.
1819-1900. Art critic. Writer.
Early influence on Hunt and Millais. A defender and supporter of the Pre-Raphaelites, Ruskin lectured on D.G. Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, Edward Burne-Jones and G. F. Watts at Oxford (1883-1835). In 1851 he wrote a pamphlet on the Pre-Raphaelite movement. His Lectures on Architecture and Painting (1854) contains a chapter on the Pre-Raphaelites.
|Charles Augustus Howell
Friend of the PRB
A secretary to John Ruskin and Dante G. Rossetti's literary agent. It was Howell who supervised the exhumation of Rossetti's work buried with Elizabeth Siddal. Helen Angeli (Rossetti) wrote Pre-Raphaelite Twilight- The Story of Charles Augustus Howell (1954).
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