Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde

Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde

Christ in the House of His Parents ('The Carpenter's Shop') 1849-50 by Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896 

Christ in the House of His Parents (‘The Carpenter’s Shop’) 1849-50 Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896

Combining rebellion, beauty, scientific precision and imaginative grandeur, the Pre-Raphaelites constitute Britain’s first modern art movement.

The exhibitionat the Tate  brings together over 150 works in different media, including painting, sculpture, photography and the applied arts, revealing the Pre-Raphaelites to be advanced in their approach to every genre.


Led by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (PRB) rebelled against the art establishment of the mid-nineteenth century, taking inspiration from early Renaissance painting.

The PRB is as an early example of the avant-garde: painters who self-consciously overturned orthodoxy and established a new benchmark for modern painting and design.

It is lush, colourful, textured and sensual.


Too many people view the pre-Raphaelites as lightweight chocolate-box merchants. This exhibition has elevated them and argues – convincingly, I think – that they were Britain’s first modern art movement, pushing boundaries in their innovation and experimentation.

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