The Pre-Raphaelites have always been among my favorite group of artists. In England, their work is still quite well-known, even though they flourished during the long reign of Queen Victoria. Several artists made up the group that was inspired by a rejection of the type of art that the Royal Academy was promoting at the time. Raphael was considered the ultimate model, and a group of young artists (Rossetti, Millais & Hunt) set to work according the principles adumbrated by influential writer John Ruskin, in opposition to Raphael.
Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites felt a return to nature was important. Yet they also took their themes and characters from what they considered the most important literature in history. Some of these paintings' ideas come from the Bible, Greek myth, folklore, or from the writers Dante, Spenser, Shakespeare, Keats and Scott. Most of the best paintings show beautiful young women, full of rich colors in natural settings. The predominant themes are love and death.
Click on images to enlarge
1. William Holman Hunt, The Hireling Shepherd
2. Arthur Hughes, Fair Rosamund
3. James Archer, The Death of King Arthur
4. Evelyn De Morgan, Medea
5. John Everett Millais, Ophelia
6. John Everett Millais, Christ in the House of His Parents
7. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Proserpine
8. Edward Burne-Jones, The Beguiling of Merlin
9. William Holman Hunt, The Scapegoat
10. John Everett Millais, Leisure Hours
11. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Paolo and Francesca da Rimini
12. John Collier, Lady Godiva
13. Frank Bernard Dicksee, Chivalry
14. Edmund Leighton, God Speed!
15. Sir Joseph Noel Paton, The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania
16. Frederick Sandys, Queen Eleanor
17. Simeon Solomon, Autumn
18. John William Waterhouse, The Lady of Shalott