A new exhibition chronicles the trans-Atlantic exchange of ideas in 19th-century British and American art
In 1848, a small group of British artists and writers banded together intent on reforming art. They rejected what they felt was the Royal Academy of Art’s reverence for the elegant but mechanical art of the Italian Renaissance, especially that of the so-called Mannerist painters who followed Michelangelo and Raphael. Instead, they found inspiration in the work of Flemish and Italian artists of the 15th century—in other words, art from the period before Raphael. They valued its complexity, richness of detail, and intensity of color, as well as its directness, purity, and depth of feeling.
Calling themselves the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the original seven members included some of the best-known British artists of the 19th century, such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais. Their work, and that of their fellow artists, is at the heart of a new exhibition, “Pre-Raphaelites and Their Followers: British and American Drawings from The Huntington’s Collections,” which runs from June 25 through Sept. 26 in the Chandler Wing of the Virginia Steele Scott Galleries of American Art.