"Art is not a study of positive reality, it is the seeking for ideal truth."

(John Ruskin)

The Pre-Raphaelites or Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of 19th-century Victorian artists founded in 1848 by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. The name of the group derives from its members’ aim to reject the mechanistic approach of the Mannerist painters and return to the classical beauty and elegant composition of Raphael’s paintings. The brotherhood sought a return to the abundant details and intense colours of the Renaissance Italian Art. Explore the Pre-Raphaelites by starting from What is the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood? Browse our curated list of artworks from the Pre-Raphaelites such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and others.

Pre-Raphaelites Quotes



We begin by telling the youth of fifteen or sixteen that Nature is full of faults, and that he is to improve her; but that Raphael is perfection, and that the more he copies Raphael the better; that after much copying of Raphael, he is to try what he can do himself in a Raphaelesque, but yet original manner: that is to say, he is to try to do something very clever, all out of his own head, but yet this clever something is to be properly subjected to Raphaelesque rules, is to have a principal light occupying one seventh of its space, and a principal shadow occupying one third of the same; that no two people's heads in the picture are to be turned the same way, and that all the personages represented are to have ideal beauty of the highest order...

John Ruskin


Art is not a study of positive reality, it is the seeking for ideal truth.

John Ruskin


…women are important in the Pre-Raphaelite movement. But while their faces are seen everywhere- in oil paintings, watercolours, drawings, – their voices are never heard.

Jan Marsh


A recurring image in the work of the Rossetti circle was that of a woman absorbed in self-contemplation, gazing into a mirror or combing her hair.

Elizabeth Prettejohn


When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.

John Ruskin


Paint the leaves as they grow! If you can paint one leaf, you can paint the world

John Ruskin


Pre-Raphaelitism was a misunderstanding they all misunderstood. It was a reform and a dream. It was real and unreal. It was modern, it was in the Middle Ages. …It was an escape from the age and a means of converting it. It was a circle in which the future and the past chased each other round.

William Gaunt