Since 1849 the Pre-Raphaelite Movement has coloured and influenced the appreciation of art, not only in its British birthplace but throughout the world. The three great founding artists – Millais, Rossetti and Holman-Hunt – possessed between them, the over-powering enthusiasm of youth, a brilliance of technique, a dedication to a romantic ideal and the pursuit of the true principles of art.
But the enduring visual image of Pre-Raphaelitism was forged by Birmingham’s native son, Sir Edward Burne-Jones. Greatest of the followers, he became a leader in his turn, and it is in his paintings and drawings, his designs for tapestries and stained glass, that the world recognises Pre-Raphaelite art without hesitation for what it is – a mode of thought and a style of work resting on definable and justified foundations.
Because of this it is appropriate that the Pre-Raphaelite Society should have been founded in Birmingham, where the Museum and Art Gallery contains the unrivalled collection of his work. Without Burne-Jones, the Pre-Raphaelite Movement would have been a phenomenon not a continuity. His friendship and close association with William Morris ensured the permanence of the Pre-Raphaelite style through his link with the Arts and Crafts Movement, carrying their united spirit on into the twentieth century.
The Pre-Raphaelite Society is dedicated to the celebration of the mood and style of art which Ruskin recognised and preserved by his writings, and to the observation of its wide-ranging influence. In co-operation with societies of similar aims world-wide, it seeks to commemorate Pre-Raphaelite ideals by means of meetings, conferences, discussions, publications and correspondence, and to draw attention to significant scholastic work in this field. First and foremost, however, it is a society in which individuals can come together to enjoy the images and explore the personalities of the Pre-Raphaelites and their followers through the medium of fine art, the appreciation of good design and the excellence of the traditional arts.
Written for the Society by the late Anthony Hobson – author of J W Waterhouse.