Birth of the Brotherhood

Mid-Victorian London, 1848: twenty-year old Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, 21, and John Everett Millais, 19, bond over their artistic passions and their shared disdain for the Royal Academy, believing that British art has become predictable and formulaic. Eager to forge a new direction, they are also intrigued to find inspiration from a time period … Read more

List of Immortals

Excerpt from Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood by William Holman Hunt Published in 1914 by E.P. Dutton & Co. Once in a studio conclave, some of us drew up a declaration that there was no immortality for humanity except in reputation gained by man’s own genius or heroism. We had not yet balanced our belief … Read more

What Grows from Grief

William Holman Hunt’s painting Isabella and the Pot of Basil captivates. It’s a painting that is difficult to walk away from when you see it in person; it’s quite large and Isabella looks so very real that she draws you in as you recognize both her exquisite beauty and her melancholy. Today I was thinking about … Read more

Botanical Paintings: My Top Picks

An  important hallmark of Pre-Raphaelite art is truth to nature. Of course, there are many reasons why the art of the Pre-Raphaelites is so visually striking. Their subject matter often illustrates a compelling narrative, the vibrant hues they used results in a visually arresting effect that commands attention, and who can resist the beauty of … Read more

The Symbolism of Lepidoptera

Truth to nature was one of the main tenets of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and an excellent example of this can be seen in the Death’s Head moth in William Holman Hunt’s painting The Hireling Shepherd (above). I’ve blogged about it many times before; it’s part of my Shakespeare post that I share yearly on the … Read more

Pre-Raphaelite Sighting in Whitechapel

New addition to the Pre-Raphaelite Sightings page.  William Holman Hunt’s painting Isabella and the Pot of Basil spotted in Whitechapel. If you are unfamiliar with this work, see my previous post Love, Death, and Potted Plants.   Whitechapel is a British detective series.  It’s dark and atmospheric with  plots that hearken back to historic Whitechapel crimes … Read more

Lady of Shalott: The Imprisoned Artist

The Lady of Shalott, John William Waterhouse

After posting about Evelyn De Morgan’s painting The Gilded Cage, I began to think about other paintings that depict women who are trapped and imprisoned in some way, paintings that prompt me to ponder limitations and boundaries. The Lady of Shalott is perhaps the most obvious example that comes to mind. Based upon the poem … Read more

Pre-Raphaelites and the Bard

If you are looking for Shakespeare inspiration today, you are in luck!  Visit for a large collective of bloggers sharing posts in honor of the day! At the end of this post, you will find links to other Pre-Raphaelite images of Shakespearean works on In celebration of the Bard’s birthday, here’s my favorite Shakespearean … Read more

Her enchanted hair

And  her enchanted hair was the first gold./And still she sits, young while the earth is old –from Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s sonnet Lady Lilith Lilith appears here with pale skin and clad in a white gown, making her luxurious hair the most vivid thing in the room.  In this painting, Dante Gabriel Rossetti is not … Read more

Love, Death and Potted Plants

William Holman Hunt’s Isabella and the Pot of Basil is currently in the news with the recent announcement that the Delaware Art museum will be auctioning the painting tomorrow.  The work has been in their collection since 1947 and it is sad news indeed that the Delaware has to sell it and three other works … Read more

Seeking out Mirrors

I’m not sure why I’m so drawn to paintings with mirrors in them, but I seem to seek them out. Specifically, mirrors on walls — not mirrors as a symbol of vanity. When I see a mirror in the background, I feel as if the artist has offered me a different perspective, allowing me to … Read more

True Painters of Light

William Holman Hunt painted The Light of The World in 1853, not too long after the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848.  He used model Elizabeth Siddal to paint Christ’s hair; Christina Rossetti was the model for the head.  It was at this point that we see that Siddal was no ordinary model, for … Read more

Pre-Raphaelites and Shakespeare: Claudio and Isabella

Claudio and Isabella, painted by William Holman Hunt, is based on Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure. “The choice of such a scene is typical of Hunt’s preoccupation with sin and guilt and his intensely moralistic approach to art.” Christopher Wood, The Pre-Raphaelites. The title of the play stems from the biblical book of Matthew:  With … Read more

A reading of Scapegoats

Via our Facebook page: An unusual Pre-Raphalite double bill! March 13th 2 pm. Manchester Art Gallery. Illustrated talk by Mira Meshulam about William Holman`s Hunt`s house in Jerusalem – built 1876. Then Act One of `Scapegoats,` new play by Deborah Freeman in rehearsed reading. Director Ariella Eshed. Tickets – 0161 235 8888. Same event… on … Read more

Keats and the Pre-Raphaelites

I recently saw an interview with Jane Campion on Charlie Rose and was interested as she discussed her latest film, Bright Star.    Based on the three-year romance between  John Keats and Fanny Brawne, which was cut short by Keats’ untimely death at age 25. Keats was an inspiration to the Pre-Raphaelites.   His poem The Eve … Read more

Valentine Rescuing Sylvia from Proteus

Based on Shakespeare’s Two Gentleman of Verona, this was one of William Holman Hunt’s most successful paintings. Lizzie Siddal, one of my favorite Pre-Raphaelite models, modeled for Sylvia. We can not see her features in this image, though.  Hunt repainted them after criticism from John Ruskin. Hunt painted this piece outdoors in the Surrey countryside … Read more