Pre-Raphaelites: Realism Over Reynolds Essay

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In September 1848, a group of seven men banded together secretly to create the “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood,” or “P.R.B.” (Whiteley 6). This group included: Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti (1828-1882), John Everett Millais (1829-1896), William Holman Hunt (1827-1910), Thomas Woolner (1825-1892), William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), James Collinson (1825-1881), and Frederick George Stephens (1828-1907). Though this movement lasted only a few years, these men pulled the art establishment away from the stagnant rules of the Royal Academy by painting works that revitalized religious, moral, and romantic themes, and made them more approachable; firmly grounded in human emotions and reality. The men of the Brotherhood sent approachable…show more content…
They were sporadic in many respects, and their interests were wildly variable, but they all rejected the Royal Academy’s strict adherence to conventional painting methods set by Sir Joshua Reynolds, and saw Reynolds’s rules as destructive guidelines that only held the art world captive in the midst of the progress and beauty of nature. Pre-Raphaelites were also influenced by 19th century society Artists like Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893), who championed first early Christian art, then later, “truth to nature” (Whitely 11). The art theorist John Ruskin influenced and strengthened their dislike of post-Renaissance and baroque art with his book Modern Painters (1843). In return, Ruskin fully supported the Pre-Raphaelite cause, lending it credibility with his strong reputation in higher circles of society. From the beginning, the Pre-Raphaelites felt that works like Raphael’s last painting, Transfiguration (1516-1520), were “pompous.” Therefore, they strove to create accurate, brilliant, sometimes photographic works. They believed, just as Ruskin believed, that art could be used for good or evil; that “it could be the instrument of immense moral power” (Hilton 54); and they worked painstakingly to create detailed works that would allow the viewer to appreciate themes without the artist’s manipulation of color and shadow. They saw significance and beauty in everything—nature held inherent beauty, even in the simplest of
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