Brotherhood of the Pre-Raphaelites (part 1)
For a correct understanding of the movement of the Pre-Raphaelites, it is necessary to identify the difference between its individual stages, stretching over several decades. It should be noted that many foreign historians and art critics are silent or deliberately distorting his progressive line, trying to limit the rebellion of the Pre-Raphaelites to a purely artistic field.
In September 1848, seven young men, students at the Royal Academy of Arts School in London, formed the “Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood” with the goal of revolutionizing English art. It included sculptor Thomas Woolner, artists – James Collinson, John Everett Milles, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his brother William Michael Rossetti, Frederick Stephens and William Holman Hunt. They were all young — from nineteen to twenty-one years old. In essence, only three could be called artists: the youngest – Milles, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Holman Hunt.
No wonder the brotherhood arose precisely in England, the most industrialized country that overtook other European states. The struggle with the power of capital turned out to be especially difficult and acute. It was led by the “first working political party” – the Chartists, to which the petty bourgeoisie also joined. Chartism arose in the mid-1830s and reached its peak by 1848 due to the economic crisis and the general revolutionary situation in Europe. These sentiments captured young people. It should be noted, for example, that such pre-Raphaelite artists as the Rossetti brothers belonged to the family of a prominent Italian political émigré, where Italian revolutionaries hid in London. And Hunt and Milles themselves directly participated in the Chartist movement, including a major Chartist speech on April 10, 1848. It was brutally suppressed, which served as the beginning of the decline of the revolutionary wave.
In the next quarter century, the world domination of capitalist England strengthens. It establishes an even more merciless reaction, which led to the short duration of the first most progressive stage of pre-Raphaelitism and the subsequent confusion of its participants.
In the middle of the century, triumphant philistinism prevailed in English art. Artists lost the achievements of the great painters of the 18th and early 19th centuries. The constable died in 1837, and Turner lived out his last years as a recluse. The self-righteous rich preferred to buy sugary and respectable ceremonial pictures. Artists were doomed to beggar or to adapt to the vulgar requirements of buyers. This kind of wingless naturalism in England was called “realism.” It was against the dividing approach to visual production – it could hardly even be called art – and the rebellion of the Pre-Raphaelites was directed.