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Nov - 6 - 2012

In the mid 19th century, at the beginning of the reign of Queen Victoria, English painting had become bogged down in academic conventions and was at a creative impasse. Reacting against this, three young students from the Royal Academy, Hunt, Millais and Rossetti, founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Their aim was to create a new style of painting, no longer taking the Renaissance as their reference, but turning to medieval art before Raphael, which they considered to be genuine and free. In this respect, they were following the precepts of the influential Victorian theoretician, John Ruskin. Their paintings were very colourful, with numerous symbols and literary references, and sensitive to nature and social issues.

The Brotherhood broke up before too long, but its ideas continued to be a source of inspiration to the English avant-garde for nearly fifty years. The second generation, dominated by Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris, applied the Pre-Raphaelite principle to decor, furniture and book illustration. Outside of England, it was the ideas of Burne-Jones in particular that would have a profound influence on the Symbolist movement.


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