Last update 1 Mar 2015.

Copyright © 1996-2015 Thomas J. Tobin

The Pre-Raphaelite Critic: Periodical Criticism of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement: 1846-1900
   
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, or PRB, was formed in 1848 as a group of young painters in Britain who wished to experiment with the Horatian principle of ut pictura poesis, which means (in a great oversimplification) that painting and poetry are merely two different ways of expressing the same ideas. The Brotherhood wished to "correct" the false principles on which the arts had been based since the time of Raphael--they thought that beauty had supplanted truth in art, and that a return to the principles of truth and usefulness would create better art. With these ideas in mind, they began to paint and to compose poetry, some with more success in one area than in the other. Dante Gabriel Rossetti continued to paint and versify throughout his career, while others in the PRB soon found that their talents lay primarily in painting or in poetry, but not both. More information about the movement is also available.

Critical Opinion in the 19th Century

The criticism garnered by the PRB was often derogatory, aiming to ridicule their "backward" aims in painting technique, their supposed Roman Catholic leanings, or the triteness of their poems. There is an extensive canon of the writings of the Pre-Raphaelites themselves, and one may find many examples of works by the Rossettis, William Morris, Algernon Swinburne, and others. Although many scholars have cited the critical reaction to the PRB, there are few avenues by which the serious (and the curious) scholar can look at this critical literature itself. I have put together this site in order to help fill this need.

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I encourage comments, questions, and suggestions from everyone; e-mail me at dr.tobin @ att.net.