The Pre-Raphaelites and mid-Victorian art

The era of Darwin, Tennyson, Dickens, labor laws, the Pre-Raphaelites and the Arts and Crafts movement.

c. 1848 - 1870

Beginner's guide

The Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetic movement were each, in their own way, reacting to the consequences of the industrial revolution.

videos + essays

Victorian art could be both poetic and pious.

The Aesthetic Movement
The Aesthetic Movement

This controversial new movement claimed that art could be divorced from moral or narrative content.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, <em>Beata Beatrix</em>
Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Beata Beatrix

In this tragic painting, Rossetti draws a comparison between himself and the medieval poet who shared his name.

Curator’s choice – Ford Madox Brown’s <em>Work</em>
Curator’s choice – Ford Madox Brown’s Work

Visually and politically radical, Work provides a visualization of the English social classes.

Curator’s choice – Millais’s <em>Isabella</em>
Curator’s choice – Millais’s Isabella

Made when he was nineteen, this painting by Millais was a pictorial manifesto for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

William Butterfield, All Saints, Margaret Street, London
William Butterfield, All Saints, Margaret Street, London

Fossiliferous stone, many-colored mosaics, and banded bricks: meaning is in the material in this Victorian church.

William Morris and Philip Webb, Red House
William Morris and Philip Webb, Red House

Morris and his friends designed and crafted every inch of his house, including the wallpaper and furniture.

John William Waterhouse, <em>The Lady of Shalott</em>
John William Waterhouse, The Lady of Shalott

Cursed by a spell that will kill her if she leaves her castle, this romantic redhead takes a fatal boat ride.

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, <em>Hope</em>
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Hope

A beautiful female figure reveals the contrasts between the confines of bondage and the audacity of hope.

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, <em>The Depths of the Sea</em>
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, The Depths of the Sea

Fatal attraction or the case of the murderous mermaid? The forecast isn’t good for Burne-Jones’s sunken sailor.

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, <em>King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid</em>
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid

Love conquers all for the legendary King Cophetua who finds love outside of his social sphere.

Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, <em>The Golden Stairs</em>
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, The Golden Stairs

This painting of musical monochromatic maidens was so popular it inspired a comic operetta by Gilbert and Sullivan.

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, <em>Thoughts of the Past</em>
John Roddam Spencer Stanhope, Thoughts of the Past

A lurid purple nightgown, discarded violets, tawdry trinkets—a fallen woman remembers her bygone virtuous life.

Selected Contributors