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:
- Beata Beatrix
- Lady of Shalott
- Beguiling of Merlin
- Astarte Syriaca
- Lady of Shalott
- April Love
- Last of England
- Isabella and the Pot of Basil
- Rossetti Portrait by Hunt
- Blessed Damozel
- Hireling Shepherd
- La Ghirlandata
- Long Engagement
- Golden Stairs
In terms of votes per artist, the results were: