In 1848, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and six other British artists and writers, including John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt, formed the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB). They shared a disdain for the established art institutions of the day, in particular the Royal Academy. The Academy encouraged a style of painting based on the art of the High Renaissance during the time of the painter Raphael. Instead, the PRB artists sought inspiration in the art of the medieval period—the art before the time of Raphael, which explains their unusual name.
The PRBs lived during the Industrial Revolution in England, a time of rapid change in all aspects of life. Their early work reflected their concern with industrialization and the social, ethical, and moral problems it caused. They often chose subjects of contemporary life, highlighting these issues, and painted them in detail, flaws and all. At first, their work was attacked in the press. But soon, the art critic John Ruskin came to their aid, writing a letter to the London Times defending their aims. Ruskin encouraged the PRB artists to turn away from current artistic trends and instead to paint out of doors, closely observing the natural world and depicting it with precise accuracy.
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