Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

William Holman Hunt

General Description

Date: 1905-6. 1914


◦ Angeli, Dante Gabriel Rossetti: His Friends and Enemies, 58-73

◦ Fredeman, Pre-Raphaelitism, 133, 248-249

Scholarly Commentary


Originally published in two volumes in 1904-5, Hunt's controversial book was re-issued in a second edition in 1914, “re-edited from the author's notes by M. E. Holman Hunt” ( Fredeman, Pre-Raphaelitism, 248 ). The work is Hunt's polemical effort to define the nature of the Pre-Raphaelite movement along the lines of his ideas about the original PRB and its goals as an art movement. Hunt was unhappy that after 1850 Pre-Raphaelitism had regularly come to be identified with “Rossettiism”. To his mind, the movement was only properly understood as grounded in plein-air painting committed to naturalistic fidelity. In addition, he believed that art should convey a strong moral argument. His position is in certain respects both correct and important, but he was wrong to suggest that DGR ever promoted himself as a leader of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, either as Hunt narrowly defined it or in any other sense. Because Hunt was uninvolved with and uninterested in the literary goals of the original PRB group—a major commitment for DGR—he did not appreciate how DGR's work would proliferate its influence in so many and so diverse ways. Aestheticism, Decadence, and some of the most important strains of Modernism—not least of all the work of Yeats and Pound—are all important derivatives of DGR's work, as they are not of Hunt's.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1