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The Pre-Raphaelite movement, founded 400 years after Raphael's birth, was comprised of a brotherhood of young artists -- like Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais -- that were attempting to challenge what they believed to be the stale conventions of Victorian art by re-capturing the style, simplicity, and subject matter of the early Italian art that preceded Raphael.

The Pre-Raphaelites rejected the dominance of the Royal Academy, which favored grand historical narratives and idealized beauty. Instead, they drew inspiration from a surprising source: the art of the Italian Renaissance before Raphael. They admired the vivid colors, intricate details, and emotional depth of these earlier works. This "pre-Raphaelite" label became a banner for their rebellion against the Academy's rigid standards.

One of the hallmarks of the movement was their devotion to nature. They meticulously studied every leaf, blade of grass, and drop of dew, striving to capture its raw beauty with photographic precision. This dedication to naturalism is evident in works like John William Waterhouse's "The Soul of The Rose," where the lush greenery and delicate flowers surrounding the protagonist mirror her evocative disposition.

Though the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood disbanded in the mid-1850s, their influence on art history is undeniable. Their focus on emotional honesty, meticulous detail, and diverse subject matter paved the way for future movements like Symbolism and Art Nouveau. Even today, their works continue to captivate audiences with their vibrant colors, intricate details, and timeless themes.

In just a few decades, the Pre-Raphaelites transformed the art world, proving that beauty could be found not just in grand myths and idealized heroes, but also in the everyday details of life, nature, and the human experience.

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Did You Know?

Did you know that Charles Dickens despised the Pre-Raphaelites so much that he called their work in his periodical Household Words, "mean, odious, revolting and repulsive?"

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