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The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites

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Though always controversial in art circles, the Pre-Raphaelites have also always been extremely popular with museum goers. This accessible new study provides the most comprehensive view of the movement to date. It shows us why, a century and a half later, Pre-Raphaelite art retains its power to fascinate, haunt, and often shock its viewers. Calling themselves the Pre-Rapha Though always controversial in art circles, the Pre-Raphaelites have also always been extremely popular with museum goers. This accessible new study provides the most comprehensive view of the movement to date. It shows us why, a century and a half later, Pre-Raphaelite art retains its power to fascinate, haunt, and often shock its viewers. Calling themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt produced a statement of ideas that revolutionized art practice in Victorian England. Critical of the Royal Academy's formulaic works, these painters believed that painting had been misdirected since Raphael. They and the artists who joined with them, including William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, and Frederick George Stephens, created bright works representing nature and literary themes in fresh detail and color. Considered heretical by many and frequently admonished for a lack of grace in composition the group disbanded after only a few years. Yet its artists and ideals remained influential; its works, greatly admired. In this richly illustrated book, Elizabeth Prettejohn raises new and provocative questions about the group's social and artistic identity. Was it the first avant-garde movement in modern art? What role did women play in the Pre-Raphaelite fraternity? How did relationships between the artists and models affect the paintings? The author also analyzes technique, pinning down the distinctive characteristics of these painters and evaluating the degree to which a group style existed. And she considers how Pre-Raphaelite art responded to and commented on its time and place a world characterized by religious and political controversy, new scientific concern for precise observation, the emergence of psychology, and changing attitudes toward sexuality and women. The first major publication on the Pre-Raphaelite movement in more than fifteen years, this exquisite volume incorporates the swell of recent research into a comprehensive, up-to-date survey. It comprises well over two hundred color reproductions, including works that are immediately recognizable as Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces, as well as lesser-known paintings that expand our appreciation of this significant artistic departure.


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Though always controversial in art circles, the Pre-Raphaelites have also always been extremely popular with museum goers. This accessible new study provides the most comprehensive view of the movement to date. It shows us why, a century and a half later, Pre-Raphaelite art retains its power to fascinate, haunt, and often shock its viewers. Calling themselves the Pre-Rapha Though always controversial in art circles, the Pre-Raphaelites have also always been extremely popular with museum goers. This accessible new study provides the most comprehensive view of the movement to date. It shows us why, a century and a half later, Pre-Raphaelite art retains its power to fascinate, haunt, and often shock its viewers. Calling themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais, and William Holman Hunt produced a statement of ideas that revolutionized art practice in Victorian England. Critical of the Royal Academy's formulaic works, these painters believed that painting had been misdirected since Raphael. They and the artists who joined with them, including William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, and Frederick George Stephens, created bright works representing nature and literary themes in fresh detail and color. Considered heretical by many and frequently admonished for a lack of grace in composition the group disbanded after only a few years. Yet its artists and ideals remained influential; its works, greatly admired. In this richly illustrated book, Elizabeth Prettejohn raises new and provocative questions about the group's social and artistic identity. Was it the first avant-garde movement in modern art? What role did women play in the Pre-Raphaelite fraternity? How did relationships between the artists and models affect the paintings? The author also analyzes technique, pinning down the distinctive characteristics of these painters and evaluating the degree to which a group style existed. And she considers how Pre-Raphaelite art responded to and commented on its time and place a world characterized by religious and political controversy, new scientific concern for precise observation, the emergence of psychology, and changing attitudes toward sexuality and women. The first major publication on the Pre-Raphaelite movement in more than fifteen years, this exquisite volume incorporates the swell of recent research into a comprehensive, up-to-date survey. It comprises well over two hundred color reproductions, including works that are immediately recognizable as Pre-Raphaelite masterpieces, as well as lesser-known paintings that expand our appreciation of this significant artistic departure.

30 review for The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites

  1. 5 out of 5

    E. G.

    Preface to the New Edition Preface and Acknowledgements Prologue --The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites Note on Captions to Illustrations Abbreviations for Frequently Cited Sources Notes Glossary of Names Chronology Annotated Bibliography Index Photographic Credits

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mir

    While it has been recognized all along that Pre-Raphaelism was influenced by medieval visual art (as the artists said themselves), Prettejohn goes beyond visual similarities to analyze ways in which members of the society modeled themselves -- their relationships and practices -- on their conception of medieval communal life. One reason Arthurian subject matter was so popular with these artists was because it reflected their obsession with male group undertakings.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Maria Lago

    Me resultaría difícil poner una nota baja a un libro con fotografías de cuadros Pre-Rafaelistas, aunque el análisis crítico de las obras fuese malo o anodino. Sin embargo, no es el caso, por lo que el valor de este tomo aumenta. La única pega que encuentro es el tamaño, que en este tipo de volúmenes de arte suele ser más grande y que se queda aquí un poquito corto. Los colores, aún así, son brillantes y perfectos y, junto al texto, que nos guía, es posible apreciar cientos de detalles maravillos Me resultaría difícil poner una nota baja a un libro con fotografías de cuadros Pre-Rafaelistas, aunque el análisis crítico de las obras fuese malo o anodino. Sin embargo, no es el caso, por lo que el valor de este tomo aumenta. La única pega que encuentro es el tamaño, que en este tipo de volúmenes de arte suele ser más grande y que se queda aquí un poquito corto. Los colores, aún así, son brillantes y perfectos y, junto al texto, que nos guía, es posible apreciar cientos de detalles maravillosos. Muy recomendable.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Enrique Olivares

    Elizabeth Prettejohn's "The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites" is what I consider a seminal text on Pre-Raphaelite art. A brilliant art historian with a profound aesthetic sensibility, Prettejohn contextualizes Britain's first artistic vanguard in terms of economic, social, historical and political facts. Besides chronicling the rise and fall of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, she also draws attention to previously marginalized topics concerning the circle of artists and poets, particularly the questio Elizabeth Prettejohn's "The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites" is what I consider a seminal text on Pre-Raphaelite art. A brilliant art historian with a profound aesthetic sensibility, Prettejohn contextualizes Britain's first artistic vanguard in terms of economic, social, historical and political facts. Besides chronicling the rise and fall of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, she also draws attention to previously marginalized topics concerning the circle of artists and poets, particularly the question of gender while introducing female artists and poets into the dominant narrative. This is by no means a light read, this is quite a dense and critical historical and cultural overview of a group of artists in response to the rapidly changing times of mid-Victorian England. If by chance your interest in medieval romance, early Christian art, or the Romantic poetry has lead you to the Pre-Raphaelite circle, consider this your comprehensive academic foray into the field.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Prettejohn's is a thorough, multidimensional survey of Pre-Raphaelite art. Some sections related less to my personal interests (the chapter on technique, for instance), but the book informed both my knowledge of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and my approach to art. Prettejohn writes effectively and argues without bias; I appreciated her qualified attention to Victorian and contemporary contexts for artistic interpretation. Nevertheless, as a reader with no prior knowledge of Pre-Raphaelitism, I wo Prettejohn's is a thorough, multidimensional survey of Pre-Raphaelite art. Some sections related less to my personal interests (the chapter on technique, for instance), but the book informed both my knowledge of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and my approach to art. Prettejohn writes effectively and argues without bias; I appreciated her qualified attention to Victorian and contemporary contexts for artistic interpretation. Nevertheless, as a reader with no prior knowledge of Pre-Raphaelitism, I would have preferred more exposition, so to speak - especially historical. My understanding would have benefitted from information about, well, the Raphaelites, and relevant history and precedent. I also felt that Prettejohn restricted her focus to a sampling of paintings, on the rare occasion, which rendered her ideas less credible and engaging.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Peter Mueller

    I cannot claim to have worked through every publication on the subject but, of course, one gets a feel for these things. In this case my gut instinct (and a lot of bedtime reading) has convinced me currently this must be the definitive work on the Pre-Raphaelites. The author is a world authority on this incredible gaggle of artists and friends who produced such mind-blowing works and influenced generations of painters, sculptors, writers ... . Unfortunately, written by a scholar means it is at t I cannot claim to have worked through every publication on the subject but, of course, one gets a feel for these things. In this case my gut instinct (and a lot of bedtime reading) has convinced me currently this must be the definitive work on the Pre-Raphaelites. The author is a world authority on this incredible gaggle of artists and friends who produced such mind-blowing works and influenced generations of painters, sculptors, writers ... . Unfortunately, written by a scholar means it is at times – you might have guessed it – scholarly and, therefore, not always easy to follow. But just enjoying it and going through it again (and again) should do the trick. In short: thoroughly recommended; an absolute feast.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Georgianna

    This book is really good for a quick art read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Louella

    This story is so good all readers will return without the need for any teasers.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Garnett

    I would highly recommend this brilliant book written by Elizabeth Prettejohn.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This is a great book. Beautiful images, and interesting, sophisticated discussions of the issues surrounding Pre-Raphaelite art. I would have preferred a little bit more straight-forward chronological history of the Pre-Raphaelites (it was there, but it seemed to stop before everything was addressed--maybe it was just the short nature of the true Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood that caused this?). I especially enjoyed the chapter "Pre-Raphaelite Realism: Landscape and the Human Figure," which discuss This is a great book. Beautiful images, and interesting, sophisticated discussions of the issues surrounding Pre-Raphaelite art. I would have preferred a little bit more straight-forward chronological history of the Pre-Raphaelites (it was there, but it seemed to stop before everything was addressed--maybe it was just the short nature of the true Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood that caused this?). I especially enjoyed the chapter "Pre-Raphaelite Realism: Landscape and the Human Figure," which discussed the techniques and motivations that they used to make their pictures so detailed and therefore 'realistic,' plus the paradoxes that this causes in both landscape and figures. I highly recommed this to all those who are interested in 19th century art and especially the Pre-Raphaelites.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Devin

    As a textbook, Prettejohn's "The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites" was pretty good. The paintings and images throughout the book were beautiful. Because they were referenced several times throughout the work, however, you had to keep flipping back and forth to find the image that Prettejohn was discussing. The written portion of the book was updated with all of the modern theories and discussions on the PRB and Pre-Raphealites. As a supplement for a class on the PRB I have been taking, Prettejohn's te As a textbook, Prettejohn's "The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites" was pretty good. The paintings and images throughout the book were beautiful. Because they were referenced several times throughout the work, however, you had to keep flipping back and forth to find the image that Prettejohn was discussing. The written portion of the book was updated with all of the modern theories and discussions on the PRB and Pre-Raphealites. As a supplement for a class on the PRB I have been taking, Prettejohn's text was useful, but I would never classify this book as light reading. If you want to know more about the history behind the Pre-Raphaelite art movement this text would be incredbily useful.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan Liston

    Despite its physical appearance this is much more of a textbook than a coffee table sort of book. The casual reader may wish to beware. If one does choose to tackle it, I give permission to skim a bit if your eyes begin to cross, as mine occasionally did. But skim slowly and carefully, lest you miss something good, because there is a lot of interesting stuff here.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Beautiful colour plates, and several paintings that I had never seen before, may have never seen otherwise.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Emylie

    I want to own this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kirk Jones

    A great book about one of the most beautiful art movements in British history, my only complaint is that it's heavy on text and light on illustrations A great book about one of the most beautiful art movements in British history, my only complaint is that it's heavy on text and light on illustrations

  16. 4 out of 5

    Latishaselestina.12googlemail.Com

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bronwyn Simons

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ali.h.s

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sonia and Olivia, 2MysticMoons

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andy Paciorek

  21. 4 out of 5

    BJ

  22. 5 out of 5

    Victor Cioban

  23. 5 out of 5

    L.M. Rainer

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mattie

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

  26. 5 out of 5

    Aayush Baral

  27. 5 out of 5

    Maria-Galene

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lloyd

  29. 4 out of 5

    Magali

  30. 4 out of 5

    Forghieri Giuliano

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