A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 65


History of English Literature: A Set of 26 Objective Questions & Answers :

The Pre-Raphaelite movement

  • he   little group with Dante Rossetti, William Morris, and Algernon Swinburne, known as the Pre-Raphaelites,   found their inspiration, as did earlier poets who shared in the Romantic Movement, in the Middle Ages.
    • The Pre-Raphaelite movement, which was initiated by Dante Gabriel Rossetti in the mid nineteenth century, was originally not a literary but an artistic movement. Rossetti , himself a painter  and a poet as well felt that contemporary painting had become a too formal academic and unrealistic . Also read the other set of A to Z (Objective Questions)
  •  He desired to see it taken back to the realism, sensuousness and devotion to detail which characterize the art of the Italian painters before Raphael. 
  • They reacted against Victorian materialism and the neoclassical conventions of academic art by producing earnest, quasi-religious works.
  • The group was inspired by medieval and early Renaissance painters up to the time of the Italian painter Raphael. 
  • They were also influenced by the Nazarenes, young German artists who formed a brotherhood in Rome in 1810 to restore Christian art to its medieval purity.
  • Raphael was no doubt ,an excellent and noted painter of his day, but Rossetti and   his friends perhaps rightly thought that he had started the movement towards academism in art. Also read the other set of A to Z (Objective Questions)
  •  Led by Rossetti some Painters organized themselves in London in 1848 into a group which come to be called ‘Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.’ Apart from Rosetti, William Holman Hunt, John Millais, Thomas Woolmer and James Collinson were the important members of this group.
  •  In painting they broke the shackles of stereotype tradition. Like Rousseau they affected ‘a return to nature’ by giving up the bulk of traditionalized sophistication which had accumulated over he centuries after Raphael. 
  • The creed of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was ‘an entire adherence to the simplicity of art.’Also read the other set of A to Z (Objective Questions)
  • Essentially Christian in outlook, the brotherhood deplored the imitative historic and genre painting of their day. 
    • Together they sought to revitalize art through a simpler, more positive vision. In portrait painting, for example, the group eschewed the somber colors and formal structure preferred by the Royal Academy. 
    • They found their inspiration in the comparatively sincere, religious, and scrupulously detailed art of the Middle Ages. 
    • Pre-Raphaelite art became distinctive for its blend of archaic, romantic, and moralistic qualities, but much of it has been criticized as superficial and sentimental, if not artificial. 
    • Millais eventually left the group, but other English artists joined it, including the painter and designer Edward Coley Burne-Jones and the poet and artist William Morris. 
    • The eminent English art critic John Ruskin was an ardent supporter of the movement. Examples of Pre-Raphaelite painting include Millais's The Carpenter Shop (1850, Tate Gallery, London) and D. G. Rossetti's The Wedding of St. George and the Princess Sabra (1857, Tate Gallery).
  • Rossetti and some other members of the Brotherhood were both painters and poets. Consequently Pre-Raphaelitism, not remain confined in painting, made itself felt in English poetry. Also read the other set of A to Z (Objective Questions)
  • The qualities which distinguished Pre-Raphaelite painting also characterized Pre-Raphaelite poetry. 
  • In poetry the movement come in a shape of revolt against contemporary poetry of the kind of Tennyson’s which was of tradition and involved in the immediate mundane, problems of contemporary society.
  • In literature, the works of the Pre-Raphaelites may be considered a recurrent phase of the romantic movement. 
    • In looking back to the Middle Ages, the school paralleled both the Oxford movement in the Anglican church and a Gothic revival led by the English architect Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin.
    •  For a time in 1850 the members published a periodical called The Germ, in which some of Rossetti's earliest literary work appeared.
  • The Antecedents of Pre-Raphaelitism: First, of course, was the work of thirteenth –century Italian poets, which like that of the Compatriot painters of the same age was marked by sensuousness, devotion to detail and realism.
  •  A kind of mysticism and love of symbolism also characterized their work. Next there was Spencer whose poetry in symbolism sensuousness and mystical overtones is near Pre-Raphaelite poetry. Also read the other set of A to Z (Objective Questions)
  • Last, but not least was the poetry of 19th century English romantic poets, particularly Keats. Coleridge’s supernaturalism, Keat’s sensualism, Shelley’s mysticism, Wordsworth’s concern for ‘the meanest flower that blows’-- all merge into the poetry of the Pre-Raphaelites.
  •  The salient features of Pre-Raphaelite poetry: 
  • Pre-Raphaelite poetry broke with the set tradition of poets like Tennyson. 
  • The Pre-Raphaelite revolted against the over concern of poets like Tennyson with socio political problem.
  •  Consequently, none of the Pre-Raphaelite concerns himself with the sordid realism of indulgence in the mundane issues of his day, but escape to a dream – world of mostly his own making. Also read the other set of A to Z (Objective Questions)
  • This dream world is often provided by the Middle Ages which had, even before the Pre-Raphaelites, exercised a strong hold on the minds of some romantic like Coleridge, Keats, and Scott. 
  • Medieval Italy, being the land of artists before Raphael, held for them a very special attraction. The medievalism of the Pre-Raphaelites had a subtle something which differentiates it from that of the Romantics before them.  Also read the other set of A to Z (Objective Questions)
  •  Some Pre-Raphaelite such as Hunt and Millias the painters, were some what skeptical of medievalism but Rosette and Morris, in particular, felt a compulsive fascination for the romance, chivalry gorgeousness, mystery and supernaturalism of the middle ages.
 Ardhendu De   

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