The Seven Initiates

Rossetti, Dante Gabriel (1828-1882) - R
Millais, John Everett (1829-1896) - M
Hunt, William Holman (1827-1910) - H
Rossetti, William Michael
Collinson, James (1825-1881) - C
Woolner, Thomas (1825-1892) - W
Stephens, Frederic George (1828-1907) -S

Others connected to the Brotherhood

Hughes, Arthur (1831-1915)
Bowler, Hhn Fredrick (1805-1876)
Morris, William (1834-1896)
Burne-Jones, Edward (1833-1898) -B
Faulkner, Charles
Marshall, Peter Paul
Webb, James (c1825-1895)?
Cameron, Julia Margaret
Waterhouse, John William
Crane, Walter
Watts, George Frederic (1817-1904)


Brown, Ford Madox
Rossetti, Christina Georgina
Collins, Charles Allston
Scott, William Bell
Dyce, William


The year 1848 found evolutions erupting in France, Austria and Hungary; citizens turning upon the governments of Italy, Germany and Czechoslovakia with economic concerns and England in the throes of the Industrial Revolution.

PR as an escapist movement, the artists interested in art prior to Raphael, the High Renaissance and return to a pre-industrial age, pastoral society, products made by hand, lack of coal smoke pollution. The Romantic Movement, which had begun with the French Revolution, in England finds the poets William Wordsworth, William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelly, Lord Byron and Keats. They influenced Alfred Tennyson and Robert Browning (The Apostles Brotherhood). Influenced by these poets, The Pre-Raphaelites turned to medieval history and legend as popularized by Sir Walter Scott, and in the tales surrounding King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table; their utopia the imaginary middle ages of Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur with the rise of the guilds, the age's middle class. Works of Chaucer and Shakespeare held in high regard. The first to sympathize with PR were those interested in social reform; Ford Maddox Brown's (Rossetti's teacher) opinions on Christian socialism and the Christian Idealism of William Cave Thomas. Brown (p 21.) born in Calais (1821-1893), educated on the continent, grew to appreciate the romantic painting of the German Nazarene school: 18th century master Casper David Friedrich.

Concept of Guinevere p. 81

The Oxford Movement (1833-1889) was a spiritual movement of academic clerics questioning English Protestantism. Preached separation of church and state, a church of mystical experience, not just social convention. These Tractarians, many of which converted to Catholicism, were judged very dangerous.

The term PR came to be used as anything good. Turner was referred to by Ruskin as "pre-Pre-Raphaelite." William Morris' Arts and Crafts movement influenced the evolution of Art Nouveau and other illustrators such as Aubrey Beardsley, Walter Crane and Arthur Rackham.

Painting outside in England, the artists faced biting insects, pouring rain storms and other bucolic miseries.


In an argument with other Academy students Millais and Hunt had rejected the incongruities of form in Raphael's Transfiguration and their stance sparked bitter controversy in which H claims they were labeled "Pre-Raphaelite" The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in September 1848 by H, M, and R, within one year of their meeting. A few precepts were "developing such ideas as are suited to the medium of fine art, and of bringing the arts of form into general unison with what is highest in other arts, especially poetry," to "study Nature attentively" and exclude "what is self-parading and learned by rote." William Michael Rossetti wrote their intention "To produce thoroughly good pictures and statues." William would later canonize their beliefs.

Raphael (1483-1520) was the Academy's paradigm. Muted colors were the prevailing aesthetic. Story about Titian painting p. 26. The PR's favored earlier paintings of Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) and Benozzo di Lese Gozzoli (1421-1497). They felt the High Renaissance lacked honesty.

R fancied himself a libertine in the mold of Byron, H nicknamed "the Mad Hatter", or more simply the Mad as he was so conscientious, and M was absorbed with painting. The P.R.B. brought a new way of looking at color and form.

R met Collinson through his mother and sister's interaction with him at church. C was engaged to R's sister Christina. C was caught up in the Oxford movement, converted to Catholicism, and then returned to High Anglicanism. The Charity Boy's Debut exhibited in 1847. H brought in Thomas Woolner (1825-1892) and Frederic George Stephens (1828-1907) who became a critic and poet. S would become the caretaker for H's muse, Annie Miller.


R exhibited The Girlhood of Mary Virgin at the Hyde Park Gallery in an exhibition which opened five days before the Academy Exhibition showed M's Isabella and Hunt's Rienzi. R's painting was also to show at the Academy Exhibition and all three had the initials P.R.B., the meaning of which generally unknown, after the artists' signature. This was to be the first unveiling of the Brotherhood's work. M and H were pissed by R's move and he thus was considered the founder of the movement.

The Athenaeum gave good notices of all three paintings. R was described as while "young in experience, new to fame" was "creditable to any exhibition." M and H had "much ability and spirit" but cautioned to desist from "a clever revival of the merely curious." In H' autobiography he tells that the Marchioness of Bath bought R's for 80 guineas and M's was purchased for 150 pounds and a set of clothes by three tailors while his painting although praised by renowned author Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

Brotherhood's journal The Germ was started to make money and promote the cause of PR. A financial failure from the start, it lasted four issues because the printer assumed the costs in exchange for his son J.L. Tupper's poetry to be included. Stephens wrote pseudonymously as Laura Savage, Christina Rossetti was introduced under Ellen Alleyn with An End p. 30. The Brothers and friends included articles, poems and engravings. Rossetti's "The Blessed Damozel" was published and he continued to work on it the rest of his life.


Collinson exhibits his first PR picture The Renunciation of Elizabeth of Hungary, brakes engagement to Christina and enters a Jesuit monastery. Exhibited on and off for 17 years, his promise as a P.R.B would never be fulfilled. R exhibited Ecce Ancilla Domini (The Annunciation). William Michael R said he used a number of models for the Virgin, but the face belonged to their sister. R again exhibited outside the Academy and dropped the nature of the mysterious P.R.B to a sculptor Munro who told a journalist and thus all of London. Millais and Hunt exhibited at the Academy Christ in the House of His Parents (The Carpenter's Shop) and Christian Priests Escaping from Druid Persecution respectively. They received singular condemnation and the word "revolting" appeared a number of times in the notices. Charles Dickens denounced Christ in the House of His Parents as "commonplace and irrelevant." R was blamed for his lack of presence during the controversy. Along with C leaving, S abandoned painting to become a critic. The Germ was terminated leaving the printer with a debt of 33 pounds.

R met through a PR associate Walter Deverell Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal whom had been noticed prior by poet William Allingham working in her father's shop. She consented to model for R. H discovered the illiterate "semi-urchin" of fifteen, Annie Miller.


commentary on the Academy Exhibition p. 43. M, R and H clung to their principles. H painted The Hireling Shepard and a portrait of R, which at least proved they were speaking, their relationship tended to be tempestuous.



Millais met Arthur Hughes (1831-1915) who was influenced by the PR and painted an Ophelia as did Millais the later had Siddal sink herself into a water filled bath. W left for Australia to try his fortune in the Gold Rush. Madox Brown was among the well wishers seeing him off which inspired his The Last of England p. 45.

B and Morris meet at Oxford, at Exeter College and brought together by transient enthusiasm for religion and a more permanent love of medievalism and art. They joined "the Brotherhood" but nothing came of it but their friendship. Morris was nicknamed "Topsy" for his unruly hair and the character in the popular novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe Uncle Tom's Cabin. B known affectionately as "Ned". They two were influenced by Tennyson, Browning, and Keats, and Ruskin. They discovered in 52 Malory's Morte d'Arthur with delight.


M in November won the title of Associate of the Royal Academy to the dismay of his fellows. R wrote to his sister, "So now the whole of the Round Table is dissolved."


Gabriele (R's father) died. His blindness had made him unable to support the family and Christina and Frances had opened a day school where William Michael helped out a bit as well. R was unreliable. R painted Paolo and Francesca, culled from Dante. Madox Brown began teaching at the Workingmen's College, Manchester. H had been to Syria and used the Holy Land as a backdrop to create The Scapegoat, a symbolic subject depicted in vivid colors. H exhibited two pictures at the Academy, The Light and the World and The Awakening Conscience which reflect deep religious and moral convictions. p. 50 Started to receive positive notice. Hughes exhibited Fair Rosamund. Siddal began to paint and write verse. H wanted to marry Annie Miller (model in Awakening Conscious) but could not introduce her to his parents. Did want to enroll her in lessons in literacy, mathematics and deportment. Also Bowler's The Doubt: 'Can These Dry Bones Live?'

A letter from B to Morris p. 60.


Dyce's Christabel. M elopes with the former Mrs. Ruskin and paints The Rescue. M had witnessed a fire rescue but also needed to set fire in his studio to recreate the event. Ruskin said it was "the only great picture exhibited this year; but this is very great."

B and Morris travel to France together on Morris' money. Morris also wrote verse, B focused on painting only. B meets R after seeing R's illustrations in William Allingham's book of poetry The Maids Of Elfenmere. B attended a drawing class R was holding in London and they struck up a relationship. R encouraged B to leave oxford without a degree and move to London to live for art. Morris graduates from Exeter, moves to London and goes to work for architect George Edmund Street where he would meet Philip Webb. B and Morris' friendship resumes further enlivened by R, Hughes and other P.R.B.


At the height of their fame, the P.R.B was growing apart. M was uxorious in Scotland H was painting earnestly and hopelessly playing Pygmalion to Miller. Rossetti found young talent flocking to him. Through Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris the PR spirit would briefly revive and fluoresce into what came to be termed the Aesthetic Movement.


M exhibits Autumn Leaves with usual praise. Hughes April Love. R, Hughes and Morris among others decorate the Union at Oxford with scenes from their beloved Malory. B introduces R to poet Algernon Charles Swinburne who was at Balliol College.

William Graham, an affluent Scottish tradesman and liberal Minister of Parliament becomes B's patron. Graham would remain B's friend for life. B traveled to Italy and saw the Italian Masters including Botticelli.

M sets up his easel outside at Winchelsea to paint The Blind Girl which was exhibited at the Liverpool Academy and M taking grand prize and a ringing endorsement by Ruskin. (p.68).


The P.R.B. pretty much dissolves. The three principles remain active. An American, Augustus A. Ruxton commissions R to organize an exhibition of English paintings for the US. This included Madox Brown's masterly Giotto-esque Jesus Washing Peter's Feet, a replica of H's Light of the World, Hughes' Ophelia and Home from the Sea: A Mother's Grave, and Siddal's Clerk Saunders. Some Americans said they had been shown second rate representations of the famous movement. They wanted M. M's patron's would not part with his pictures. Nothing by R as well.

Final parting of ways of H and R. R, characterized by irresponsibility, flirted with Annie Miller. Miller tells H and says R had knowledge were cheap abortions could be had. This matched with her rejection in America could not have been good for the jealous Siddal. R also that year began an affair with Fanny Cornforth and fell in love with Jane Burden after revising her features into the PR mold.

W returns from a four year trip to Australia (1852) without striking it rich but did exhibit his sculpture Lord Tennyson. W becomes increasingly well to do and presents his commissions until 1882 with his Memorial to Sir Edward Landseer. He would never have the influence the three principles or the latecomers enjoyed. M exhibits A Dream of the Past: Sir Isumbras at the Ford and The Escape of a Heretic, 1559. Ruskin declared Sir Isumbras "a catastrophe."


Morris publishes the poem "The Defense of Guinevere". R began his commission of The Seed of David for teh Llandaff Cathedral, completed in 1864 for which Morris was one of his models. Hughes moves out of London to a quiet suburb and effectively withdraws from the PR milieu although he does continue to exhibit for many more years.


B draws a pen and ink sketch called Going into Battle, and elegant counterpoint to Hughes' last great picture The Long Engagement. Hughes' began this as a Shakespearean subject, Orlando in the Forest of Arden in 1853, yielded to an impoverished country parson and his long-suffering fiancee. It depicts the misery of the decorous Victgorian engagement, which could last up to ten years plus until familial demands of financial security were satisfied. Painted in the open air and in all types of weather.

Morris marries Jane Burden (R's old lover) They move from London to Upton, Kent where he began the course upon which he would remain for the rest of his life. Design of his own furniture and interiors with help from his friends. His house was designed in a Gothic style by his friend Philip Webb. B supplied the designs for the stained glass windows. M designed the wallpaper.


B marries Georgiana MacDonald, the young daughter of a nonconformist minister. R marries Elizabeth Siddal. These nor Morris' marriages would be happy ones. Siddal's father was a shop clerk, Burden's dad a stable keeper, Miller's an ex-soldier and jack-of-all-trades who had his daughters brought up in a midden. M did have a happy marriage with Effie, but she started out with Ruskin. R was also seeing Fanny Cornforth. After Siddal dies Jane Burden Morris and R grew unreasonably close. It is also rumored that Mrs. Burne-Jones and William Morris grew in their regard for each other.

More or less the aesthetic of the PRB was now left to the devotees of whom B and Morris attained the greatest prominence.


Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co., the first of Morris' interior design companies, created with the assistance including that of R, B, Webb, and Madox Brown, Charles Faulkner and Peter Paul Marshall. "The revolution in art proposed by the Pre-Raphaelites and propounded by Ruskin was about to give way to a new, more enchantingly decorative age - the dream world incarnated by the Aesthetics." Morris invents a strikingly original system of ornament that the fin de siecle movement Art Nouveau would evolve.

B's Merlin and Nimue.



Gained notice at the International Exhibition.

Siddal kills herself with an overdose of laudanum, not proved to be suicide, but plagued with mysterious illnesses and R's infidelities, and a miscarriage increased her dependency on the narcotic. R blamed himself and buried her along with the only manuscript of a selection of his poems. His affair continued with Fanny Cornforth and Jane Morris would become more important as a muse and lover much to the chagrin of William Morris. R moves to 16 Cheyne Walk, known as The Queen's House, for Catherine of Braganza was said to have lived there. His roommates George Meredith published his volume of sonnets that year, Modern Love and Swinburne whose star was to rise in the next few years and proved a good friend to R, upholding his career when he could. Swinburne admired Christina Rossetti who published Goblin Market and Other Poems this year which included four engravings by R. Poem p. 95. She is known to this day for it.

M exhibited The Music Mistress representing a gentlewoman working for pay, his wife Effie was the model and she now hired his models of whom the senuousness of past PR models was no longer. "his work had been veering for years toward the same, prosaic quality" that he found objectionable in his youth.

Cameron, Julia Margaret p. 97.


B's Wine of Circe and The Annunciation (The Flower of God) R's Beata Beatrix (1864-1870)?, a posthumorous homage to Siddal was complete somewhere around this time. M's much more socially acceptable My First Sermon


M became full member of the Academy.


H rids himself of the relationship with Annie Miller after she briefly settled on blackmail and married Fanny Waugh and Fanny sat in for Annie in his Il Dolce Far Niente (1866) H painted a truthful portrait of Fanny, possibly post-humorously as she died in childbirth. So long a bachelor, again alone, he stayed close to the Waugh family and married Fanny's sister in 1875.

Swinburne publishes his poem "Atalanta in Calydon".

B moves to Kensington Square.


R's Monna Vanna.

B experiences one of his deepest depressions. Ruskin hires for 200 pounds a rascal named Howell to act as jester who played Puck around B who cheered up and painted one of his most famous, Cupid Delivering Psyche.


B moves to final home, The Grange, Fulham.


Howell, B's jester, continued to amuse him until he "invited" B's mistress Maria Zambaco to meet Mrs B. Zambaco. B painted a series called Pygmalion and the Image, completed St. George and the Dragon and began a series of illustrations for The Earthly Paradise, Morris' pastoral four volume poem. The edition was never realized. R began his last great work Dante's Dream at the Time of Death of Beatrice (1869-1871)? another hagiography for Siddal and lifelong reverence for the poet. Swineburne and Yeats comments p. 100.

In the Exhibition M showed Rosalind and Celia which Swinburne derided as "a fair-faced ballet girl, with a soul absorbed by the calf of her leg." William Michael said "With all the signal merits of execuion, the texture is not free from wooliness." Any disparagement is not noted from M. M's paintings were ever increasing in popularity and would never lack praise save from his old friends.


R exhumed Siddal's body to recover the book of poetry and revised it and published it as Poems in 1870. Glowing notices from Swinburne.

M exhibited The Gambler's Wife, praised by fellow painter Frederick Leighton.


B's Phyllis and Demophoon, his own depiction of Beatrice and The Sleeping Knights which was later incorporated into the Briar Wood murals which he began in 1871, taking 20 years to complete.

M's The Widow's Mite praised but lacked an "old drama"


R basking in new found status as a poet when Robert Buchanan's essay The Fleshy School of Poetry dealt him blows from which he would never recover. Buchanan wrote under the name Thomas Maitland and accused the PR associates of log rolling and labeled William Michael Rossetti as "the editor of the worst edition of Shelley which has ever seen the light." His criticism of R's poetry p. 102. R seems to interpret some of his criticism as blame for Siddal's death. R retreated to his Cheyne Walk home with his private zoo (animals p 103) and drug abuse with chloral and whisky. R became closer to Jane Morris using her in many pencil sketches and as Guinevere in Astarte Syraica (1875) Pandora (1877?) and Proserpine (1877 or 4?). He did also use Fanny Cornforth, but Jane gained a place in his heart next to Siddal.

Not year specific - Morris grew closer to Georgiana Burne-Jones, possibly as a result of their spouses extra marital affairs. An intimate friendship formed and Morris decorated manuscripts, with her initials emblazoned in his typical style for her and wrote verse about her.


M used Edward Trelawney an old comrade of poets Byron and Shelley as a model in his The North-West Passage.

Morris began dissolving Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. as the principals were loudly complaining of nonpayment. R wrote a scathing satire of the dissolution called The Death of Topsy. Reopened the enterprise under the name Morris & Company and it became famous for its textiles and wallpapers with designs from nature by Morris. Reproductions remain popular today.


B receives commission for a series of paintings from the Conservative statesman Arthur Balfour.


B gave one of his rare public exhibitions, he usually sold to his patrons directly or through commissions. He attracted the attention of the american writer Henry James


M's Cherry Ripe

Swinburne retires to the home of a friend Theodore Watts-Dunton.


M's Sweet Eyes

B receives honorary degree from Oxford.


M's Pomona

R dies at Birchington-on-Sea on April 9 where he was being treated for choral addiction. Found was among the pictures left behind, began in 1851 and unfinished. notes on p. 108.


M's Lilacs. H begins Lady of Shalott which he finished in 1905.


Morris' The Dream of John Ball prose romance inspired by socialist politics about the 14th century revolt of Wat Tyler.

Waterhouse's Lady of Shalott


The Morris & Co. tapestry, The Adoration of the Magi, designed with the assistance of B. M had been giving lectures in Fabian Socialism and discussion groups in his home attended by George Bernard Shaw, Yeats and local men from factories. Produced pamphlets detailing the advantages of socialism


Morris begins influential Kelmscott Press which created the still celebrated Kelmscott Chaucer in 1896.


B made Associate of the Academy. Morris and Hunt disdain such elitism. Hunt's highest reward was an Order of Merit.


Christina Rossetti dies. Also included in her works is a collection of poems, Out of the Deep Have I Called Unto Thee, O Lord the last work of which is "Light of Light" She was a lifelong invalid. Swinburne was invalided about this time.

Beardsley's illustrations for the publication of Wilde's Symbolist play, Salome and an edition of Malory's Morte d'Arthur. Beardsley's incipient Art Nouveau style owe much to Morris' designs.


M briefly president of the Royal Academy before he dies in 1896. He and B had attained baronetcies.


Waterhouse's Hylas and the Water Nymphs


Ruskin dies of influenza. He had given 157,000 pounds to art and other public works. His name had been tarnished by the Whistler episode p. 106. Still today his work is the measure of all art criticism.


H publishes The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which includes his memoirs and his theory of painting.


Swinburne dies.


H dies, last surviving painter of the PRB. He is said to have remained the most faithful to the PR ideal. He says in his memoirs, "I was never successful in the working for medals, many dunces made more presentable drawings than mine; but except that I should have been glad to cheer up m parents, I fretted little at my failures at competition.

"In the end, he must have known that in spite of the vicissitudes of artistic fashion he and the Brotherhood had triumphed. Thanks to their efforts and dedication, the world of their art had helped shake off the pervasive gloom of the Victorian age, and had greeted a new day with uncommonly fresh eyes.



1)    The Pre-Raphaelites  Inspiration from the Past, Terri Hardin, TODRI Book Publishers, New York, 1996.