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The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood... "Anti-Art Brotherhood"!

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

In 1848, a group of English painters, poets, and art critics, including William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens, and Thomas Woolner formed what was known as The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

The group associated their work with John Ruskin, an English critic whose influences were driven by his religious Christian background. The Brotherhood principles were shared by other artists of the time, including Ford Madox Brown, Arthur Hughes, and Marie Spartali Stillman. Later followers of the principles of the Brotherhood included Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, and John William Waterhouse.

John William Waterhouse - The Lady of Shalott, 1888, oil on canvas, Pre-Raphaelites Brotherhood Style
John William Waterhouse - The Lady of Shalott, 1888, oil on canvas, Pre-Raphaelites Brotherhood Style

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood... What We Know?

During the 19th century, the art world had seen much more than a reformation of humanity's understanding of the boundaries of art. The transcendence from the narrow classical art rules to more free artistic approaches was not as simple as it looks.

Early in the 19th century, the epithet Nazarene style was adopted by a group of German Romantic painters who aimed to revive spirituality in art, the name Nazarene came from their affectation of a biblical manner of clothing and hairstyle.

Related to the epithet Nazarene, a new movement evoked, a group of English artists formed what was called The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

The Brotherhood believed the Classical poses and elegant compositions of Raphael, in particular, had been a corrupting influence on the academic teaching of art, hence the name "Pre-Raphaelite".

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood aimed to take art practices back to the cultural and artistic events of Italy during the period 1400 to 1499, collectively referred to as the Quattrocento from the Italian word for the number 400. The group sought a return to the abundant detail, intense colors, and complex compositions of Quattrocento Italian art.

The Anti-Art" Principles of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

The group continued to accept the concepts of imitation of nature, and aesthetics as central to the purpose of art. the Pre-Raphaelites defined themselves as a reform movement, created a distinct name for their form of art, and published a periodical, The Germ, to publish their ideas.

The group's debates were recorded in the Pre-Raphaelite Journal. The Brotherhood separated after almost five years.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood created a gorgeous collection of aesthetic expressive paintings, with remarkable soft light transitions and contrasting shades utilization, a marvelous naturalistic color palette, and well-arranged strong interacting, eye-catching compositions, the group added a valuable piece of brick to the art history wall.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood's trials to limit what art depicts have come to failure, Art is a matter of touching the viewers' emotions, the delivery of the artist's message to his viewers' hearts is what really matters, actually, the frustrating trials to limit the visual approaches to the viewer's feelings is an anti-art act.

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