The Pre-Raphaelites or the Pre-Raphaelite Brootherhood was a group of English painters, poets and critics, which was founded in 1848 by three artists, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt. Soon after brootherhood joined William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens and Thomas Woolner. The group rejected the art revealed by the mature works of Raphael and Mannerism and insisted on the discovery of older artists before Raphael (that explains their name, Pre-Raphaelites), who were more closely to nature. They also dreamed of Medieval times and were fascinated by them but at the same time they were dealing with the social problems of their time and concerned about the future. They wanted to return to intense colours and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian anf Flemish art. The Germ was their magazine where their ideas and doctrines were published.
The Pre-Raphaelite Brootherhood was formed in Millais's house in London in 1848. Present at the initial meeting were Millais, Rossetti and Hunt. Rossetti was pupil of Ford Madox Brown, who was a painter and had firm relation to the Pre-Raphaelite Brootherhood, although remained independent. By autumn four more members joined the group, Woolner, Michael Rossetti, Collinson and Stephens. The Brootherhood was kept secret from Royal Academy of Art.
Brootherhood had some principles for the artists to follow, such as to produce genuine ideas and study and respect nature, but those principles were non-dogmatic and each artist was an individual, responsible for the work which was revealed. Freedom and rensposibility were inseparable. Pre-Raphaelite techniques were also under the influence of Romanticism and medieval culture but with a sense of realism. The realist side was led by Millais and Hunt, though the medievalist side by Rossetti and his followers Edward Burne-Jones and Wlliam Morris.
In 1849 the first exhibition of the Pre-Raphaelites took place at the Royal Academy with Millais's Isabella and Hunt's Rienzi, whilst Rossetti's Girlhood of Virgin Mary was exhibited at the Free Exhibition on Hyde Park Corner. The artists had the initials ''PRB'' and beetween January and April 1850 published their magazine, The Germ. At the same year after the exhibition of Rossetti's Christ In The House of His Parents Pre-Raphaelites were attacked by critics (Charles Dickens) and their aristic medievalism was condemmed. Their principles were publicly attacked by the President of the Academy, Sir Charles Lock Eastlake. After the controversy Collinson left the Brootherhood, however the Brootherhood soon found support by critic John Ruskin who praised their devotion to nature and rejection of conventional methods of composition. The Pre-Raphaelites were influenced by Ruskin's theories and as a result Ruskin wrote letters to The Times in which he defended their work. At the beggining Ruskin favoured Millais, but after Millais's attachment to his wife, Effie scandal was caused and Millais abandoned the Pre-Raphaelite style but Ruskin though continued to support Rossetti and Hunt.
After 1850 both Hunt and Millais moved away from a direct imitation of medieval art, though Hunt continued to reconcile religion and science through observations and studies in Egypt and in Palestine for his paintings on biblibal themes. Millais abandoned Pre-Raphaelitism after 1860.
In the twentieth century the work of Pre-Raphaelites was devalued by many critics and since the 1970s there has been a resurgence in interest in the movement.
a music party-Arthur Hughes
The writing lesson-Collinson
Romeo and Juliet-Brown
The hilering shepherd-Hunt
study for moonbeans dipping into the ocean-Evelyn De Morgan
The martyr of the Solway-Millais
In the grass-Hughes
For more artists associated with Pre-Raphaelitism see:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre-Raphaelite_Brotherhood
Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.
Oh dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing eyes
Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.
Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again tho’ cold in death:
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
Speak low, lean low,
As long ago, my love, how long ago.