Tag Archives: John Everett Millais

Celebrating 25 years of the Pre-Raphaelite Society

The Pre-Raphaelites are everywhere at the moment – on hoardings, on TV, in books and magazines, it seems as though we have revived our love affair with the decadent colours and lush imagery of the Victorian painters – and even those who hate them (and there are plenty who do) still seem to find them interesting. If you are a fan, you may be a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Society, which is celebrating 25 years of existence this year. The Society aims to promote the study of and interest in Pre-Raphaelitism, and is an international society with members all over the world. It’s open to everyone – there are members who are just interested, to serious collectors and academics, so the aim is to cater for everyone. The society holds a series of lectures in Birmingham (details of which are here) as well as trips to places or exhibitions of Pre-Raphaelite interest.

In 25 years, the society has changed a great deal in some ways – such as the style and content of the journal, the Review – and not at all in others. The ‘mission statement’ of the society is its guiding principal:

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.

I joined the society in 1998, as a postgraduate student writing on The Germ, the Pre-Raphaelite magazine, and in 2004 I took over as rossetti_2327293beditor of The Review, which I (mostly) very much enjoy. I find it fascinating to see ways in which modern scholars are reinterpreting works which were out of favour for much of the twentieth century, and, from the rehabilitation of Millais’s reputation to the growth of interest in women Pre-Raphaelite artists, the landscape has changed considerably since the society’s founding.

We are celebrating the founding of the society, and indeed the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, on Sunday 8th September with #PRBDay on Twitter. Please come and vote for your favourite Pre-Raph painting, by tweeting it to us @PreRaphSoc. I will be counting votes and posting Pre-Raph quotes and links all day, and look forward to meeting some of you virtually then. Last year’s winner was Millais’s Ophelia (top image), and I’m looking forward to finding out which painting will win this year.

lorenzoIf you are not a member of the society but are interested in Pre-Raphaelite art, please do think about joining us. You can join online here, and membership is a very reasonable £14, or £10 concessions. Benefits of membership include:

  • Receipt of The Review the Society’s principal publication, published three times a year and dated Spring, Summer and Autumn. The Review contains articles, book reviews, illustrations and “Notes and Queries”, and offers the opportunity for all members who are interested in research and writing to contribute in a very satisfying way to the Society’s life.
  • Receipt of PRS US: The Pre-Raphaelite Society Newsletter of the United States. Published three times a year, this illustrated bulletin of American news and activities includes such features as “Pre-Raphaelites Online”, “Events” and “The American Collections”, in addition to short historical articles.
  • Receipt of notices of all meetings and visits; and also, of occasional newsletters.
  • Free admission to the Annual General Meeting, which is held in Birmingham on a Saturday morning in late October and which includes a lecture following the business session.
  • The opportunity, for modest charges, to attend other lectures and to join coach trips to galleries, museums and places of interest around the country. (Members can, of course, make their own travel arrangements and meet coach parties at particular destinations.)

Also, we are very nice, friendly people who look forward to welcoming you to the Pre-Raphaelite Society!

This post first appeared on http://cultureandanarchy.wordpress.com/

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#PRBDay celebrates the Pre-Raphaelites!

The Pre-Raphaelite Society has taken to social media, with a blog, facebook page and a twitter account in addition to our website. Our twitter account has a growing number of followers (448 at last count), including some organisations such as art galleries and other societies, and academics, writers, art historians, curators as well as interested members of the public and members of the PRS. So I decided to go one step further, and celebrate the founding of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood on twitter, using the hashtag #PRBDay. I asked people to vote for their favourite painting on Saturday 8th September, and all day I registered the votes whilst tweeting facts, quotes and links about the PRB. I wasn’t sure how it would work out, or how many people would participate, but I was pleasantly surprised. Our followers retweeted the announcements, and thoroughly joined in. We had fantastic support from BMAG and Tate, Manchester Art Gallery and the Journal of Victorian Culture, among others; the Tate even wrote a blog post to celebrate!

Other blogs and websites joined in and you can read their posts about #PRBDay here: Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood; Verity Holloway; Artistic Dress; The Kissed Mouth (please let me know if there are any I’ve missed!) We posted a new poem by our poet-in-residence, Sarah Doyle, onto our website. All day, alongside the voting, I tweeted links, facts and quotes of Pre-Raphaelite interest, and enjoyed the conversation. We had book recommendations, links to Pre-Raphaelite pictures and also to people’s original art; we also asked which paintings people didn’t like: nominations included Sandys’s Medea, Millais’s The Awakening Conscience and Hunt’s The Scapegoat. (Quote of the day here must go to Stephanie Piña: ‘I feel as if the goat is summing me up and does not like what he sees’.)

I’m amazed and delighted by how much support the PRS got, and can’t thank enough those people who joined in, retweeted, voted and helped to make #PRBDay a success. We had 159 votes spread across 63 paintings. Of course, what everyone wanted to know was: which painting won? The answer is … in third place, Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott; in second place, Rossetti’s Beata Beatrix, and in first place, Millais’s Ophelia (the Tate’s bestselling postcard). Interestingly, though, in terms of the votes received by individual artists, Rossetti was way ahead, followed at a distance by Millais and then Waterhouse. So of the top three, two featured Elizabeth Siddal – and all three a woman with red hair. (The top paintings are rather different from the ones chosen by Stephen Wildman in the Guardian a couple of years ago).

A huge range of paintings were voted for, so I have done a list of the top 10, plus a graph of the most popular artists. A complete list of all the paintings voted for, together with all the tweets using the #PRBDay hashtag (it’s quite long!) will be posted on the PRS website (sorry, can’t append it to a blog post). More than anything, this long list of paintings, plus the enthusiasm of the voters, shows the popularity of the PRB and the number of paintings which are still really popular today. Disappointingly, though, there was only one vote for a female artist (Elizabeth Siddal). If you have a desire for further information on the votes, statistics etc, please comment and I will do my best to answer your question!

The top 20 paintings voted for were, in order:

  1. Ophelia
  2. Beata Beatrix
  3. Lady of Shalott
  4. Proserpine
  5. Beguiling of Merlin
  6. Work
  7. Astarte Syriaca
  8. Mariana
  9. Lady of Shalott
  10. April Love
  11. Chatterton
  12. Ophelia
  13. Last of England
  14. Isabella and the Pot of Basil
  15. Rossetti Portrait by Hunt
  16. Blessed Damozel
  17. Hireling Shepherd
  18. La Ghirlandata
  19. Long Engagement
  20. Golden Stairs

In terms of votes per artist, the results were:

  1. DGR
  2. Millais
  3. Waterhouse
  4. Hunt
  5. EBJ
  6. FMB
  7. Hughes
  8. Wallis
  9. Brett
  10. Collier

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