Outlines of English and American Literature The Pre-Raphaelites byLong, William J.
In the middle of the nineteenth century, or in 1848 to
be specific, a number of English poets and painters banded themselves
together as a Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. [Footnote: The name was used
earlier by some German artists, who worked together in Rome with the
purpose of restoring art to the medieval simplicity and purity which, as
was alleged, it possessed before the time of the Italian painter Raphael.
The most famous artists of the English brotherhood were John Everett
Millais and William Holman Hunt.] They aimed to make all art more simple,
sincere, religious, and to restore "the sense of wonder, reverence and awe"
which, they believed, had been lost since medieval times. Their sincerity
was unquestioned; their influence, though small, was almost wholly good;
but unfortunately they were, as Morris said, like men born out of due
season. They lived too much apart from their own age and from the great
stream of common life out of which superior art proceeds. For there was
never a great book or a great picture that was not in the best sense
representative, that did not draw its greatness from the common ideals of
the age in which it was produced.