Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood William Morris Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of three men who were either painters, art critics or poet. Other four men joined the three to make a total of seven-member brotherhood. These British painters believed art painting had been compromised by people who drew unimaginable and unrealistic art. They, therefore, wanted to return the natural drawing hence the name Pre-Raphaelite.

At the beginning of starting pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais were only below 25 years. The three later invited the other four and wholesomely produced enticing art that influenced religious feelings. In other words, Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood art was inspired by mediaeval romance, Chaucer, Shakespeare, subjects from the bible, Ovid and Arthurian legends. Unfortunately, their work did not come without critics. Several people stood against Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but their excellent work surpassed all the critics. Their work attracted more followers between 1850s and early 1860s.

Although the fraternity comprised only men, women also contributed to their work. For instance, Dante's wife posed for many arts painted by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. She painted too and wrote poems on the same and produced their work. Other women involved include Julia Cameron, the photographer, Rosa, Barbra, Anna, Jane and Mary, who were all painters. The brotherhood movement, however, dissolved during the early 1850s.

The Rise of William Morris

It is during the 1850s that Dante became associated with William Morris and Edward Burne Jones and together revived the brotherhood. They started painting art showing romanticism and aroused sensual feelings. Ford and Phillip later joined Morris, Dante and Burne in 1961 to form a decorative arts firm called Morris & Co. The firm revived handcrafting that emphasized the beauty of their art. William Morris had a significant impact during his lifetime because first, he relived the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Secondly, he started several movements, including the arts and crafts movement. This movement influenced metal works and ceramics, bookmaking, floral fabrics, ornamental objects, among other things. Indeed, he was an influential man. Moreover, he contributed to Victorian poetry, and some of his poems include the Earthly Paradise and The Defense of Guinevere.

The life of Morris was not easy, especially when his wife decided to engage in an affair with Dante. However, he remained calm and concentrated his energy into writing some of the best novels today. He published cultural and political articles that were highly influential and interventional. He has also translated several texts including the Icelandic Sagas. He sponsored several publications from Oxford and Cambridge Magazine and was later invited to work there but refused. Well, he felt he could make a significant contribution if he worked somewhere else like starting and running the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. He also founded Kelmscott Press which published his poem alongside those of Dante, Percy, Samuel and others. Kelmscott Maner was so motivating that he names his two websites after the name.

Unquestionably, Morris was after his happiness. Most are the times he started movements and ended them because they never contributed to his satisfaction. However, one thing is for sure; Morris loved nature art; Morris kept going back to it even after starting a political movement. In other words, he was both romantic and a revolutionist, and he concentrated on both in balance. He related his ideas to Pre Raphaelite oriented nature and the hope or fear for the future.

The Three Tools Morris Used to Make an Impact in the World

He used his money to sponsor arts and crafts movement, independent labour party, among other political action he felt, were substantial. With his pen, he wrote news from nowhere among other poems and journals. He used his voice to lecture in parks and streets corners. His words were intelligent and persuasive, and it's evident with his last speech about 'making the best of it'.

Most Significant Work

Morris's work was excellent, but the most significant was The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. He designed page titles with wood-cut prints. His exemplary work has influenced the continuous production of his work. How? His followers produce wall hangings, bedspreads, cushions and wallpapers whose iconic feature is the floral design Morris had used his lifetime. Although Morris died, his work remains to be a benchmark against today's arts and crafts.