Date 1881-01-01
Publication Mag. of Art
Topic WMR history of PRB movement
AP display
RA display
Subject art
Keywords PRB history
  ↳ first-person
Standards facts
  ↳ history
Notes PRB foundational, essential WMR history of PRB

Annotation details

81 January Magazine of Art


The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as recalled by WMR.


Rossetti, William M. "The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood." Magazine of Art 4 (January 1881): 434. Web. 21 Sept. 2011.


This retrospective, written over three decades after the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, is a first person account of the early days, key figures and founding principles of the art movement which, according to Rossetti, reformed British art and aesthetics. Rossetti gives a biographical sketch of the formation of an artists' group that eventually became the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB), starting in 1848. He describes each member and what they were doing at the time, including their background in art. He includes qualitative comments on each artist and their specialty, including himself. There are insider views of the relationship between the artists and the contributions each made to the PRB as a whole and the aesthetic vector they espoused.

He traces the early years of unduly harsh criticism of the PRB, then of constructive and largely positive notice by Ruskin.

Rossetti summarizes the art principles they "agreed in liking" which became the governing principles of the movement, as well as those they disliked and eventually reformed in the broad movement of British art. He specifies that there were only seven members of the PRB movement, including the five founding artists, then two more added later: Frederick George Stephens to replace James Collinson, and William Michael Rossetti himself.

He singles out his brother Dante as one of the first artists to be "no less a poet and a painter." He admits to "some juvenility" in the behavior of the early Pre-Raphaelites in their earliest days. He also attributes his association with the movement and the favor he received among them to the fact that he was Dante Rossetti's brother.




PRB foundation, key PRB members; historical account, first person narrative

Standards of Judgment:

historical accuracy, first-person witness


Holman Hunt, Rossetti, Sir John Everett Millais, Thomas Woolner, Collinson, George Stephens, Tennyson, Ruskin, Angus Reach



Writing technique/tone:

narrative, historical, educational


"My readers will not need to be informed that there was some juvenility;" ". . . they imported into the movement its chief spice of bitterness and antagonism;" "I was a government clerk; and it may well be surmised that, if I had not been Dante Rossetti's brother, and had not hence been regarded with personal favour by the other Pre-Raphaelites, I should have found no place in their councils."