Writing the Pre-Raphaelites: Text, Context, Subtext, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Writing the Pre-Raphaelites

Text, Context, Subtext, 1st Edition

Edited by Michaela Giebelhausen, Tim Barringer


276 pages

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This vibrant collection of essays claims that a complex network of texts by critics, biographers and diarists established the credibility and influence of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Throughout the twentieth century, Modernist taste failed to acknowledge the achievement of oppositional groupings such as the Pre-Raphaelites. The essays collected here, however, reveal that the British group anticipated later avant-gardes by using the written word to configure for itself a radical artistic identity. Public and critics alike were scandalized by the radicalism of Pre-Raphaelite painting, its unflinching portrayal of historical figures and of contemporary life, and its irreverent attitude to artistic convention. Pre-Raphaelitism's innovations were not confined to style: new forms of artistic identity and behaviour were explored. As the contributors interrogate the texts through which Pre-Raphaelitism was constructed, they demonstrate that the movement's wide influence as a cultural phenomenon derived from the interplay between exhibited works and critical discourse. Applying a range of sophisticated methodologies from the fields of literary studies, art history, and cultural studies, these interdisciplinary essays uncover the neglected role of texts in the success of the Pre-Raphaelite rebellion and argue in favor of a new centrality for this movement in the history of nineteenth-century European culture.


' … a highly sophisticated, inventive, scholarly, and desirable collection of essays… With an international line-up of this calibre this book will become de rigeur for anybody working in the field, anybody interested in the Pre-Raphaelites, and anybody interested in the idea of the avant garde in the nineteenth century.' Barrie Bullen, University of Reading, UK

’This collection of essays strikes a rarely achieved interpretive balance between Pre-Raphaelite textual and visual production and critical and historical consumption…The essays offer fresh insights…Recommended.’ Choice

'… an exciting new book on Pre-Raphaelitism…' Cahiers victoriens et édouardiens

'The complexities and complicities of art historical practice�, both frustrating and enriching, which the contributors have identified in engaging with the Pre-Raphaelite legacy, mark a widening of the scholarship area to include not only the work of art and the artist, but also the networks of production, reception and consumption - which constitutes the collection’s greatest merit.' Pre-Raphaelite Review

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: Pre-Raphaelite mythologies, Michaela Giebelhausen and Tim Barringer; In a word: Pre-Raphaelite, Pre-Raphaelites, Pre-Raphaelitism, Deborah Cherry; Pre-Raphaelites from rebels to representatives: masculinity, modernity, and national identity in British and Continental art histories, c.1880-1908, Julie F. Codell; 'A soul of the age': Rossetti's words and images, 1848-73, David Peters Corbett; Reconstructing Pre-Raphaelitism: the evolution of William Michael Rossetti's critical position, Julie L'Enfant; The quest for Christ: William Holman Hunt and the writing of artistic motivation, Michaela Giebelhausen; Written out? The case of Ford Madox Brown, William Vaughan; Absent of reference: new languages of nature in the critical responses to Pre-Raphaelite landscapes, Jason Rosenfeld; Poetic, eccentric, Pre-Raphaelite: the critical reception of Simeon Solomon's work at the Dudley Gallery, Colin Cruise; Exhibiting the avant-garde: the development of the Pre-Raphaelite 'brand', Matthew Plampin; Millais in reproduction, Malcolm Warner; Bibliography; Index.

About the Editors

Dr Michaela Giebelhausen is based at the University of Essex, UK.

Tim Barringer is Paul Mellon Professor in the History of Art at Yale University, USA.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / General