These 8 Pre-Raphaelite Artists are some of the best-known and beloved artists from this era. These artists shaped the way we look at art in the twentieth century. Their works depict the beauty of everyday objects and the beauty of nature. As a result, they are often considered the pinnacle of British art. If you are interested in learning more about these Pre-Raphaelite famous artists, continue reading below!
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
As a young man, Dante Gabriel Rossetti revolutionized the art of Britain. He was a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, an organization of artists and critics committed to reforming art. Rossetti became obsessed with female beauty and began painting her in 1857. In 1872, he published his most famous painting, The Scream, in which he depicts a woman chasing a man.
Rossetti’s love affair with Elizabeth Siddal influenced his works. He envisioned her as Beatrice in Dante’s epic poem. In 1863, he married Elizabeth Siddal, who died tragically of a laudanum overdose. It is unknown if the two artists ever reconciled but a poem describing their love affair is dated 1861.
John Everett Millais
Born in 1813, John Everett Millais was one of the greatest artists of the Victorian age. A child prodigy, Millais entered the Royal Academy Schools at an early age and quickly won the prizes that were given out by the academy. By age nine, he had already won two awards. He went on to join the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and joined the group in 1848. This movement opposed the conservative style of British art at the time, and Millais was one of its most celebrated exponents. However, during the 1850s, Millais and his peers turned away from the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and began developing a new and powerful form of realism that became known as modernist.
Millais’s personal life had a considerable impact on his career. He was married to Effie Millais, who modeled for his painting, The Order of Release. This relationship was short lived, however, and Millais fell in love with Effie, whom he met at a painting exhibition in London. Although Ruskin supported Millais in his early work, his annulment with Effie is often linked to his change of style. After his annulment, Millais became more devoted to his work and his wife Effie became a powerful promoter of his work, expanding his social circle and influencing his style.
William Holman Hunt
In the middle XIX century, William Holman Hunt, one of the most influential and celebrated pre-Raphaelite artists, was born in London. He was the son of a warehouse manager. The family was strict Christians, and William Holman Hunt read the Bible religiously as a child. His father encouraged his artistic talents, but he was also pushed to work as an office clerk. Nevertheless, he managed to persuade his parents to send him to art school at the Royal Academy in London.
Hunt was one of the founders of the Color Research Group, and his work played a crucial role in their efforts to create permanent colors. His works are highly revered today. While Hunt never signed his paintings “PRB,” they remain among the most admired works of art by pre-Raphaelites. His oeuvre is characterized by a romantic style, and many of his paintings feature portraits of famous figures.
Sir Edward Burne-Jones, RA is best known for his paintings of mythical beauties. His work was influenced by the wood-engraved illustrations of Alfred Rethel, who used Durer and Holbein as models. It was the wood-engraved illustration of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s book that changed Burne-Jones’ career. He became a frequent visitor to Rossetti’s studio and social circle, and was one of the earliest members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
John William Waterhouse
John William Waterhouse was born to English parents and grew up in Italy. He enrolled in the Royal Academy schools in 1870, where he studied painting. His early works were influenced by the work of Alma-Tadema and Frederic Leighton.
The works of Waterhouse reflect his interest in literature and mythology. He drew inspiration from romantic literature and Greek mythology. One of his best known works is Lady Shalott, which depicts Elaine of Astolat, who died of a mysterious curse after looking at Lancelot. Waterhouse painted this scene three times. Another popular subject was Ophelia, which depicts the dying woman near the water.
In the 1880s, he experimented with en plein air painting. He produced several oil studies and sketches while in Italy. These studies enriched the quality of his landscape paintings. The Lady of Shalott is an example of Waterhouse’s skill at depicting natural landscapes. Later, in the 1890s, he mastered the portrayal of female figures, which is evident in his famous work. Waterhouse was elected to the Royal Academy in 1895.
The life of Elizabeth Siddal, one of the most famous Pre-Raphaelite artists, is fascinating. The renowned beauty started her artistic career when she posed for a painting by Walter Deverell. He needed a model for his painting of Viola dressed as a boy. While Siddal was plain-looking, history would later declare her one of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood’s most beautiful models.
Having met and become friends with Rossetti, Siddal began her study in 1852 and began to admire his work. The pair moved to a residence in Southwark, where she lived with her siblings. The couple’s relationship turned anti-social, and they coined affectionate nicknames for each other. Siddal was nicknamed “Siddal-Lydia” by Rossetti, and he dropped the second ‘l’ from her name.
Rossetti remarried a woman he had met while she was still a model for one of his paintings. Rossetti remained secretive about the relationship, hoping to protect her family and ensure a Christian burial for his beloved wife. However, the relationship became so strained that Rossetti never fully recovered from his guilt over the death of his beloved wife. As a result, his love for Siddal would be his last great achievement.
Ford Madox Brown
Ford Madox Brown was an English painter who was associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Although he never belonged to the group, his works show his affinity for the movement. His works feature vivid colors and attention to detail. They also show his interest in literature and modern society. While Brown had some formal training, he didn’t start showing his talent until he was 14. He was also befriended by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and later adopted his style.
Although Ford Madox Brown was not a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, his portraits of Elizabeth Bromley and her children were some of the best known. His portraits of her were painted around Christmas in 1848, and she is said to have worked as a model for Brown. In his diary, Brown refers to her as “Miss Stone,” but she actually used her mother’s maiden name.
Evelyn De Morgan
Evelyn De Morgan was a talented painter who incorporated Aesthetic elements with Pre-Raphaelite art. She also had a love of medieval subjects. Her use of personification and iconography allowed her to express spiritualist concepts. She was full of mischief, yet serious about her art. Some of her works were purchased by William Imrie of the White Star Line.
Related reading: 8 Most Famous Pre-Raphaelite Paintings