Poll – My Pre-Raphaelite Favorite

Beata beatrix by Rossetti

Pre- Raphaelite fans will be delighted with the art world’s latest find.  It’s a previously unseen drawing by  Dante Gabriel Rossetti of William Morris’s wife Jane.  The drawing which has been in a private collection shall go on display in January next year.  It is a full-scale pastel drawing called Mnemosyne.  The actual painting is on display in the Delaware Art Museum.  The drawing will be shown at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.  Jane Morris‘s beauty came to typify the Pre -Raphaelite idea of classical beauty.  Morris and Elizabeth Siddal are immortalised in their art.

The drawing study for the 1881 painting Mnemosyne which will go on display next year

Much has been wrote about the Pre- Raphaelite brotherhood which were founded in 1848 by  Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, and John  Everett Millais.  The brotherhood consisted of critics, poets and painters. William Michael Rossetti (brother to Gabriel) James Collinson, Frederick George Stephens, and Thomas Woolner made up the seven original members – other artists were added later.  The Pre -Raphaelites believed that the classical poses and compositions of Raphael in particular had a corrupting influence on academic art teaching.  Joshua Reynolds, (whom they nicknamed ‘Sloshua’) came in for some criticism for his painting technique which the Pre -Raphaelites considered ‘sloppy and formulaic form of academic Mannerism’.  They wished to return art to use of abundant detail and rich bright colours seen in Quattrocento Italian and Flemish art.

Isabella and the pot of Basil by Holman Hunt

The Brotherhood’s early doctrines were expressed in four declarations:

  1. to have genuine ideas to express;
  2. to study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them;
  3. to sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parodying and learned by rote;
  4. and, most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues
Christ in the House of his Parents by Millais

One of my favorite Pre -Raphaelites is John William Waterhouse,a later Pre- Raphaelite.  I have  included him here, to take the place of non painter William Micheal Rossetti.

work by Ford Maddox Brown
To Let by Collinson

The  critic and champion of the P.R. was John Ruskin and although an exquisite draftsman, but I haven’t included him this time.  I have however, included Ford Maddox Brown instead of Frederick George Stephens, as Stephens was the Pre- Raphaelites  promoter, rather than artist. 

The Beguiling of Merlin by Burne-Jones

 Thomas Woolner is also ommitted as he was a sculptor rather than painter.  He has been replaced byEdward Burne-Jones.

The Pre- Raphaelites  were no strangers to scandal and Millais painting of the Virgin Mary (Christ in the House of his Parents) in 1850 came in for severe criticism by the writer Charles Dickens;-

“According to Dickens, Millais made the Holy Family look like alcoholics and slum-dwellers, adopting contorted and absurd “medieval” poses’.”

Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse

Dickens of course had a lot to say about most things and for the most part said it well.  But here is an opportunity for you to have your say in my ‘What the Dickens?’ poetry challenge over on Bookstains – just click Dickens for details:-)


More about this Pre Raphaelite painting here  More on the Pre- Raphaelites here  Images;- Millais here  Holman Hunt here  Collinson image here Burne-Jones image here John William Waterhouse image from here – Thanks to all!

26 thoughts on “Poll – My Pre-Raphaelite Favorite

    1. Hhehe trust you 47whitebuffalo:-D We have quite a good selection of Pre-Raphaelite paintings in our city art gallery – its the most popular room! So romantic to sit and gaze at these beautiful paintings.
      ‘Work’ by Ford Maddox Brown is one of our paintings (loads of detail). Its a shame you can’t vote for them all – they’re all great in different ways:-)

  1. My reasons for voting for Rossetti are two-fold. First, I think he created a very individualistic style in his visual art. The second reason has to do with his poetry. I think of the Pre-Raphaelites as having a close association with writing and symbolism and that was one of Rossetti’s strengths. Thanks for another entertaining post!

    1. Rossetti is good value as an artist and poet and such an individual. I think he was the one with the most personality of the brotherhood. He buried some poems with ‘Lizzie’ Siddal then dug them up years later. His sister Christina Rossetti is another wonderful poet, one of my favorites.
      I picked Waterhouse just because of this picture as I used to have it in
      poster form, along with Hylas and the Nymphs and the Lady of Shallot. They had an almost hypnotic effect on me – I would gaze at them for hours on end:-)

  2. Thank-you for this informative post, Lynda. I had to vote for Rossetti because I love the fact that he ventured away from hard edges around the dominant figure and lost some edges and softened backgrounds. Great feeling in that painting!

    1. Rossetti is a verygood choice Leslie – you have to admire his individuality – and his style:-) The thing with the Pre-Rapaelites is that there are just too many great paintings to choose from!

  3. Hopefully not found behind a sofa…

    I love Hunt’s work and Burne Jones. I used to wish I could paint like the Pre-Raphaelites. Now I’m just glad I can paint something resembling a human form!

    1. I’d love to find one behind my sofa Val:-D How happy I would be! I’ve had to make do with a couple of Athena posters:-(
      What a wonderful movement those artists were eh:-)

      1. Oh me too!! (But I’d be very suspicious of myself if I found any artwork behind the sofa that I’d never noticed before!)

        Can one still get Athena Posters? I used to love those.

        Um… it’s just started ‘snowing’ on your blog… how weird.

        1. The posters are still going – but I think the shops are gone.
          The snow effect is programmed to come on Dec 1st I think. It mat be under ‘appearence’ , it must still be programmed from last year:-D

    1. Thanks Goetz! I’ve just had a look at the images on your flickr – and very interesting it is indeed! I can see lots of little detailed similiarities linking these works:-) A fascinating and interesting study which I hope shall have viewers speculating further! Thanks for sharing this – your visit is appreciated:-)

      1. Literature on Millais’ painting:
        • Deborah Mary Kerr (1986): John Everett Millais’s Christ in the house of his parents (circle.ubc.ca/handle/2429/26546)
        • p.34 in (01) Éva Péteri (2003): Victorian Approaches to Religion as Reflected in the Art of the Pre-Raphaelites, Budapest 2003, ISBN 978-9630580380 (shortlink: http://www.snrk.de/EvaPeteri.htm)
        • Albert Boime (2008): Art in an Age of Civil Struggle, 1848-1871
        p. 225-364: The Pre-Raphaelites and the 1848 Revolution (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:BookSources/0226063283)

  4. I do love Rossettis painting esp Beata Beautrix but I am not sure about some of his later Jane Morris paintings and again I really love some of Holman Hunts works esp the Scapegoat but then theres the rather weird massacre of the innocents and I am not completly sure about thew awakening conscience but I think overall the Paintings of Millais as theres not any of his I really dont like and they are so varied,,

  5. It’s Echo and Narcissus by Waterhouse for me. I also like ‘Isabella and the pot of basil’ by Holman Hunt (who would have thought there lay her murdered lovers head in that pot of basil? glad he spared us that detail :-0)

    1. Yes, Holman Hunt pays a lot of attention to details and his colours are vivid. There’s some of his work in our city art gallery – and I really enjoy looking at those paintings 🙂

      1. The Three boxes link shows a segment from an illustration from Lewis Carrolls ‘The Hunting of the Snark’ 1876, a segment of Millais ‘Christ in the house of his parents’ 1850 and a segment from Edward VI and the Pope, An Allegory of Reformation’ Anonymous. Goetz has linked these three together. Click the above link and find out why!
        Thanks Koetz!

  6. Yes, that link is working Goetz. I was just a bit behind with my comments 🙂 that’s all. Your link provides a fascinating insight into Millais painting ‘Christ in the House of his Parents’ – which I hope more shall read 🙂 Thank you for sharing this 🙂

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