~ Arts and Culture / ~ Things of the Past

★ The Romance of the Pre-Raphaelites

'Saint Cecilia' by John William Waterhouse (1895)

★ I’ve been looking at a lot of art by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood lately, and I’ve found the rich yet subtle colours, opulent fabrics, elaborate details, and their sheer beauty a real source of inspiration. I’m something (ok, a lot) of a history geek, so I’ve always been interested in historically inspired art. The Victorian obsession with Mediaeval romanticism and Classical mythology is clearly evident in these pictures, which is probably why I love them so much (if I need a reason other than how lovely they are!).

If you’re not familiar with Pre-Raphaelite art, it was a a group of painters, poets, and writers, founded in England in 1848. Members of the group included William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, amongst many others. They were strongly influenced by the ideals of Mediaeval romanticism – qualities like chivalry, honour, and love were paramount – and were known for producing images with lots of detail and intense, glowing colours.

Since I’ve felt so inspired by all of these beautiful images, I’ve put together a gallery of my favourite paintings to share with you. I’ve tried to select a few of the less famous examples, so you won’t find The Lady of Shallott by John William Waterhouse, or Ophelia by Millais, even though I think they’re both beautiful. From all of them, I’ve featured my absolute favourite at the very top of this post – Waterhouse’s entrancing 1895 depiction of Saint Cecilia. I love everything about it – from the composition, to the sumptuous detailing on her absolutely divine dress, to the splashes of vivid red that catch the eye. Just gorgeous.

Stunning aren’t they? Just click on each painting to see a larger picture – they look absolutely gorgeous full screen, and the details are wonderful. I’d love to know what your favourite Pre-Raphaelite painting is, so why not let me know in the comments?

Much love!

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