Mary Magdalene, c. 1858-60. Frederick Sandys.
Seven young men calling themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (P.R.B.) gathered together in London in 1847, united by a shared distrust for the Royal Academy, the sanctioned art institution of the day. Instead, they turned for inspiration to the art of the Middle Ages--the time "before Raphael." Their subjects were drawn primarily from literature, including the Bible, Shakespeare, and the poets of their own age, such as Alfred Tennyson and John Keats.
As the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood gradually dispersed, new inspiration appeared when William Morris and Dante Gabriel Rossetti became close friends. In 1861, Morris founded the firm that would become Morris and Company, designing hand-crafted household objects, and signaling the beginning of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
By the late 1860s, new artists, including Edward Burne-Jones, Simeon Solomon, and Albert Moore, were introduced into the Pre-Raphaelite coterie, bringing fresh influences and issues to the table. This influx of new individuals led to the subtle merging of Pre-Raphaelitism with what is now referred to as the "Aesthetic Movement," prevalent in the 1870s through the 1890s. This style reflected a desire to move away from the sentimental narratives of the early Victorian period and to focus instead on images of "beauty" (often women) in which color harmony, the beauty of form, and compositional balance took precedence over narrative.
The Delaware Art Museum's Samuel and Mary R. Bancroft Collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art consists of over 150 works, including paintings, drawings, photographs, decorative arts, and illustrated books. It is the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art outside of England.
Generous individual support also provided by Members of the Museum's Rossetti Circle.
- The story of the Pre-Raphaelites and how a collection of their art came to be housed at the Delaware Art Museum. Learn More
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