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Movements, Styles, and Tendencies The Pre-Raphaelite Movement

The Pre-Raphaelite Movement

The Pre-Raphaelite Movement Collage

Started: 1848

Ended: 1890

"We sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parading and learned by rote"

The Pre-Raphaelites Signature


The Pre-Raphaelites opposed the dominance of the British Royal Academy, which championed a narrow range of idealized or moral subjects and conventional definitions of beauty drawn from Renaissance and ancient classical art. In contrast, the Pre-Raphaelites were inspired by the "pre-Raphaelite" period, that is, the centuries preceding the Italian High Renaissance. They believed painters before the Renaissance provided a model for depicting nature and the human body realistically, rather than idealistically, and that collective guilds of medieval craftspeople offered an alternative vision of artistic community to mid-19th-century industrialized arts.

Pre-Raphaelite regard for pre-industrial life should not be confused with being fully antimodern. Members of the group believed that Britain's Industrial Revolution had led to many social and political ills, but they determined that these modern realities (e.g. poverty and prostitution) were worthy subjects for art. They believed in challenging Victorian moralism and that modern life could be renewed by spiritualism, artistic freedom, and poetry. The Pre-Raphaelite movement is best understood as having two distinct parts: the first and principal part, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, was an organized society that disbanded after only four years; the second, known simply as the Pre-Raphaelites or Pre-Raphaelitism, was a larger and much more diffuse movement that lasted for over two more decades. Although it began with painting, Pre-Raphaelitism had a significant impact on other modern arts, influencing literature, illustration, and design. Artists directly connected to the group were major figures in Symbolism, the Arts and Crafts movement, and early fine art photography.

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