Accessibility statement

The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites


This module explores the art of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood (founded in 1848), its international dissemination in the second half of the nineteenth century, and its artistic and critical legacy through to the present day. It re-evaluates the Pre-Raphaelite movement in the light of recent exhibitions, scholarly publications, and more popular representations of the group and their activities, including film and television. Can the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood be regarded as the first of the modernist avant-garde movements, and how does that change our understanding of the history of modern art? Should older views of Pre-Raphaelitism as an insular or parochial English movement be discarded? What should the agenda be for the next generation of Pre-Raphaelite studies? The module will develop students' knowledge and understanding of the history of modern art and of the critical issues surrounding modernism and modernity. It will draw on the abundant primary documentation that is available for the study of English art in this period, much of which has yet to be explored in the scholarly literature.


By the end of the module students should have acquired the following:

  • a thorough knowledge of the art of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and their followers, 1848 - 1914
  • an awareness of the international dissemination of the Pre-Raphaelite movement in the later nineteenth century and of its role in histories of modern art
  • knowledge and understanding of critical approaches to Pre-Raphaelite art, from 1848 through to the present day
  • skills in the interpretation of primary texts (both critical and literary) relevant to the Pre-Raphaelite movement, including the ability to locate and access such texts
  • skills in visual analysis
  • an ability to critique historical and current approaches to Pre-Raphaelite art

Preliminary Reading

  • Tim Barringer, Reading the Pre-Raphaelites,  New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999 (first published London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998).
  • Tim Barringer, Jason Rosenfeld, and Alison Smith (eds), Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde, exh. cat., London: Tate Publishing, 2012.
  • Colin Cruise, Pre-Raphaelite Drawing, exh. cat., Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery/ London: Thames & Hudson, 2011.
  • Jerome J. McGann, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Game That Must Be Lost,  New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000.
  • Elizabeth Prettejohn, The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites, London: Tate Publishing, 2000.  (Paperback ed. 2007)
  • Elizabeth Prettejohn (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Pre-Raphaelites, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Frank Cadogan Cowper, The Blue Bird, 1918, private collection

Module information

For postgraduates