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Recent Testimonials

Thank you to all customers who have written these testimonials for us in response to the following questions:
– Did the artwork arrive on time, and in good condition?
– Are you pleased with the artwork, and is it as described?
– Where did you find us?
– Would you recommend us to a friend?’
– Other comments.
G.C.  from London purchased ‘Carried Me Away’ by Stewart Wilson, ‘Autumnal Forest 3’ by Jan Rippingham & ‘Fishing Boats’ by Shirley Netherton
Hi Jan
We’re very happy with all elements of your service.
The paintings are great and they arrived superbly wrapped which was a concern when buying art online.
We’d certainly recommend you to friends and would use you again.
L.C.  from Lancashire purchased ‘Orange Poppies on Board’ by Rachel McCullock
Hi Jan
I was very happy with my purchase its a lovely painting, there  was a tiny crease in the board on the bottom left corner but I managed to hide it with the frame. I came across your site through Google and I would certainly purchase from you again. I’ve already told a few friends about your site when they have asked where I bought the painting. I’m currently in the process of moving home and my new place has a lot more space for more artwork so I will be browsing your site again very soon.
L.H from Germany purchased ‘Owl’ by Anastasia Shimshilashvili
The artwork arrived on time and in good condition.
I found your company on the Internet, browsing for original artworks, by British Artists.  I decided that I wanted something original to hang on my walls that wasn’t overly costly, but would set our home apart from those filled with the mainstream prints we could buy on the highstreet.
I would definitely recommend your company to all of my friends who are looking to do the same.
The piece is really just as I had hoped and will dominate our Hallway in our new home…, I’m just looking for a good framing service locally and it will be a fab talking piece for all visitors, I am certain.
I will be back to buy more works once we have moved in.
C.R from London purchased ‘Grand Canal, Venice’ by Jan Rippingham
The artwork arrived in very good condition and was beautifully packed, the only unfortunate thing was that they tried to deliver it on a saturday when the caretaker wasn’t working so I had to collect it from the sorting office, I think it arrived the day after it was sent, so very efficient.
I can’t remember who told me about the website, but I had heard about it from someone, and yes, I would recommend it to a friend for browsing , it was extremely easy to navigate .
The artwork itself was exactly as it looked on the webpage and I am very pleased with it.
N.P from Northamptonshire purchased ‘Craiova’ by Paul Chambers
First time ordering a painting on the net, I was a little unsure but thought I would give it a go and very pleased.
T.H from Middlesex purchased ‘Poppy Field 8’ – Commission by Jan Rippingham
Dear Jan,
Thank you for our beautiful art work! We are more than thrilled with our art piece. It arrived on time and just as you described. My husband and I found you through a random google search. I have already recommended your services to many friends as we were very satisfied with your piece and will likely commission with you again in the future.
P.K from Middlesex purchased ‘Garden 9’ by Jan Rippingham
I recently purchased ‘Garden 9 ‘ by Jan Rippingham. The painting arrived on time and was very carefully packed. It was true to the computer image only the actual painting was much nicer and more vibrant : a real taste of summer. I can’t remember whether I followed a link to the site or whether I just googled  and found it, but I am so glad I did and have since recommended your gallery to my daughter , who was also interested in the wide variety and quality of the artworks.
J.D. from Essex purchased ‘Street Lights 2’ by Aisha Haider
Yes I am very pleased with the painting and the service I received  from your company. The painting is exactly as I hoped and arrived extremely quickly.
Thanks very much and regards,
A.T. from Glasgow purchased ‘The One’ by Aisha Haider
The art work was wonderful, it arrived on time  & was well packaged. My sister-in-law had seen art work on your site & really liked it so we bought her it for her 40th birthday & she loved it.  I would definitely recommend your art work & web site to others.
L.E. from Dunbartonshire purchased   ‘Lovers – Never let me go’  by Carmen Tyrrell 
Dear Jan,
Yes I was very pleased with the service and communication prior to delivery, the art work and it’s description and picture was accurate. Really easy and quick process. I think I just did a google search for artwork. I really liked your website, easy to navigate and clearly presented.
A happy customer, many thanks
D.P. from Middlesex purchased ‘Sea Lavender’ by Tina Robson
I would be delighted to provide feedback.  I purchased ‘Sea Lavender’ for my dad’s 60th birthday and he was overjoyed with the gift.
The artwork arrived within a few days of the order, in good condition & was packaged appropriately.  We are delighted with the piece.
I found the gallery website whilst browsing on the internet for art work.
I would recommend the gallery to friends if they were wanting to purchase art and will certainly look at the site myself in the future.
N.R. from Hampshire purchased ‘Purple Light’ by Steve Hawthorn
Dear Jan,
The art work arrived on time and in excellent condition. We are very pleased with it as it looks exactly like the Internet picture. I found your website via the Matthew Bank art shop website (Jesmond) and would recommend it to anyone looking for unique artwork.
C.E. from Lincolnshire purchased ‘Garden 5’ by Jan Rippingham
Here are my comments for my recent purchase:
 Did the Artwork arrive on time and in good condition? Yes it was a very fast efficient service and undamaged
Are you pleased with the Artwork, and is it as described? Yes I was very pleased with it and more importantly so was my friend as this was a 50th birthday present. She loved it!
 Where did you find us? Used google
Would you recommend us to a friend? Absolutely
Other Comments: Beautiful painting, would love to own one myself…..perhaps for my 50th!!
P.B. from Fife purchased ‘A Winter’s evening, Basingstoke Canal, Ash’  by John Hurr
The painting arrived on time and was excellently packed.
It was with some trepidation that I purchased a painting on the internet but all my fears were unfounded.
I just found Rippingham Art by browsing the internet but would not hesitate to recommend you to anybody.
My only other comment would be that the painting, in real life, has stronger colours than depicted on your website, but this does not detract from my enjoyment of it.
It has now been framed and is hanging on the wall to be appreciated.
J.P.  from Staffordshire  purchased ‘Forest Brook’ by Oleg Riabchuk
The painting arrived very quickly and in good condition although it had not been strung so I could not hang it until Jan sent the D rings and cord.
I Googled oil paintings / galleries / etc. and found artonline among others.  As soon as I saw Forest Brook it attracted me.
I already have recommended you to several people.
I was worried about buying a painting online without actually seeing the real thing but the 14 day trial period gave me the confidence to go ahead.  All my queries were dealt with promptly and efficiently and Jan was very supportive.  I love the painting and often as I walk past it I have to stop and look at it, then I forget where I was going.
G.M from Berkshire  purchased ‘Pisces Diptych’ by Rachel McCullock
Jan, Thank you for your efficient service. Pisces Diptych arrived, well packed and in good condition, just in time to be presented to celebrate our daughter’s 50th birthday. It now graces her entrance hall in St Albans and looks superb there. I located you by internet search and congratulate you on your web site. Please convey our admiration of her work to Rachel McCullock. Best wishes for the New Year.
E.C from Inverclyde purchased ‘Red Poppies’ by Oleg Riabchuk
Dear Jan,
I did receive the art work in very good time- thank you!
Think I found you just by searching original art work and then when I saw a number of your paintings which I liked, I then went on to your site.
Many of your paintings, which I liked were already sold and so I continued to search your site.
I am very happy with my purchase.
I most definitely will recommend you to friends and family.
Thanks for great service.
L.S. from Norwich purchased ‘The Last Walk of the Day’ and ‘Sunset behind the Gasworks’ by Martin Whittam
In response to your e-mail I can confirm that the commission was received on the day we requested delivery, both paintings were in excellent condition.
We found your site using theYahoo search engine, we will use your site in the future and would not hesitate to recommend it to family and friends.
Most efficient and helpful service, we were kept informed at each stage of our commission progress, first class customer service, well done.
S.H from Kent purchased ‘Poppies 2’ by Jan Rippingham
Yes very pleased with painting, thank you.  It arrived promptly and extremely well wrapped.  I commissioned Jan to paint this for me and was very impressed with the fact that I was able to make a few changes along the way, as she sent me photos of the work in progress, so what I received was exactly what I wanted – very impressive.
I found you on Google and have already recommended you to friends !



D.V from  Surrey purchased ‘Snow Patrol’ by Mervyn Tay
“Snow Patrol” is great and my brother-in-law loved his b’day present
Eventhough it was no longer in stock at the time of the order, your gallery went above and beyond in contacting the artist to commission another painting in time for my brother-in-law’s birthday!
Thank you very much for your efforts.  I was very impressed with the service.
The website was easy to traverse and I liked the in-depth bio of each featured artist.
I would highly recommend the site to friends and, in fact, have already done so.

I will definitely revisit the site to purchase further art pieces.

C.P from Devon purchased  ‘First Snow’ by Jan Rippingham

The piece of art by jan is very nice, its in the process of being framed and cant wait to hang on our lounge wall.
It arrived in excellent packaging with no damage at all. The whole process was very plesant indeed and i will be recommending the site to anyone i know who is looking for any art.
Thanks for lovely picture and easy nice uncomplicated transaction.
D.B from Cambridgeshire purchased 6 prints by Theo Booth
I am delighted to say that I am so pleased with the 6 Theo Booth prints I recently purchased. They arrived quickly and were extremely well packaged.
The prints are beautiful and work really well on my stairs and landing – they look fab!
We were looking generally at art on the internet and came accross your site whilst searching Google.

I have had friends comment on the prints and always tell them where I bought them, they do generate many comments!

M.B from Perth & Kinross purchased ‘Tour De France 2012’ by David Reeves Payne

Yes the painting arrived very promptly and beautifully wrappd to protect.
It was in perfect condition and David had included a certificate of authentication.
I found your web site through google.
I would certainly recommend you and have already done so to friends.E.H from Kent purchased ‘October 2’ by Jan RippinghamThe painting arrived on time and was just what I wanted, it was in very good condition and I am very pleased with it. Looks perfect in my lounge. Thank you.A.G from Kent purchased ‘Golden Sky’ by Aisha Haider-Yes-Yes-Browsing the internet-Yes-Really like your website, easy to navigate-My wife really liked the idea of showing the paintings in a room setting , helps a lot
P.S from Switzerland purchased  ‘Garden 6’ by Jan Rippingham

-It arrived in perfect condition – excellent packaging. It took longer than expected but this was due to Swiss customs, nothing you can do about that.

– I’m very pleased with it – the description and picture on your website were accurate.

-Can’t remember exactly but it was an internet search.

-Already have!

-How do I go about commissioning another painting from Jan?

 J.L from West Sussex purchased  ‘Early Morning Landscape’ and ‘Tuscan Fields’ by Jan Rippingham<
-My father is very pleased with the paintings. He loves them!
-From an online search.
-From my point of view, my father has been very pleased with your response to his queries and your helpfulness (he had queries about framing for example).
S.M from Essex purchased ‘Autumn Mist in the Woods’ by Aisha Haider, and ‘San Giorgio Maggiore’ by Jan Rippingham.
The artwork arrived promptly and well wrapped. I am extremely pleased with the work and it looks better in real life.
I found you on line through Google, actually searching for galleries to visit. I would definitely recommend you to a friend, in fact, my family have already been told!
Best art gallery web site I found!
Many Thanks. I’m sure I’ll be using you again.
T.G from Oxfordshire purchased ‘Working Narrowboats’ by John Lowerson.
The painting arrived today, and is wonderful. I wondered about buying art online, but your returns policy gave me confidence. The watercolour exceeds my expectations – it looks even better than it did on the screen.
It is just what I have been searching for.
M.H from London purchased ‘Poppies’ by Oleg Riabchuk.
yes thank you, it arrived on time & in good order, & yes i am pleased with it, the more i look at it the more i like it, I found you through a artist, & most certainly i would recommend you to my friends, and others,all good stuff, i will probably be buying more some time soon.
J.K  from Leicestershire purchased ‘Morning Flight’ by Beth Nicholas.
– Yes it did – quicker than I expected!
– Yes- I had already seen it at an art fair so I knew what to expect.
– I received a link from the artist herself.
– Yes
– It was very easy to use your site. Thank you!
N.B from Lancashire purchased ‘Summer Morning’ by Oleg Riabchuk.
-The artwork arrived within 4 days of placing order and in perfect condition – excellent service.
-Very pleased with the painting, the website photograph doesn’t do it justice!.
– Via Google.
-Without doubt.
– Excellent site offering an extensive range of art which is easily accessible – only a ‘click’ away.
P.Q from Suffolk purchased ‘A Place to Dream’ and ‘Memory Tree’ by Jean Tatton Jones.
My purchases have just arrived (only 2 days after I ordered them) and were in pristine condition. They are beautifully presented and along with the certificate of authenticity, I received a personal greeting card from the artist.
I am delighted with my experience of shopping with you and with my purchases.  I’d like to say a huge thanks and I shall certainly be making recommendations of your website.
Best wishes for continued success in the future.
S.M from Surrey purchased ‘Surrey Hills’ by Jan Rippingham.
We’re so please with ‘Surrey Hills’ which is perfect and everything I had hoped for. On the whole I think your site is fantastic, very user friendly and the option to see the painting ‘in situ’ makes all the difference.
J.T from Middlesex purchased ‘The Height of Summer’ by Jan Rippingham.
Delivery was on time and the painting was in perfect condition. My daughter loves the painting (it was a birthday present) so do I.
I found the gallery on the web, and yes I would recommend you to a friend.
D.H from Cornwall purchased ‘1223-1’ by Paul Chambers.
Just received the picture from Paul Chambers, it is stunning. Excellently wrapped and very prompt service. I would definitely use your site again.
J.B  from Surrey purchased ‘Surrey Fields’ by Jan Rippingham.
-Yes, arrived quicker than expected, well wrapped in in good condition.
– Loved it, moving house later this year otherwise I’d have already bought another (I saw an autumn colours one, that’ll be one for next year/ after I’ve moved and when I know what my new house looks like).
-Googled you.
– Absolutely.
– I would have bought a larger one, potentially 1.5 to 2 times bigger if available, perhaps it was and I missed it, but I think a larger version would look fantastic, worth considering..
L.M from Warwickshire purchased ‘Cavalcade’ by Stewart Wilson.
The art work ordered from you site arrived as scheduled  and in first class condition. It was well wrapped and  on opening we were delighted by our selection . We returned to the site in order to purchase our second choice but sadly that had been sold.
R.K from Essex purchased ‘Cottage Garden 4’ by Jan Rippingham.
-Did the Artwork arrive on time, and in good condition? Yes and it was on time
-Where did you find us? Google I think
-Would you recommend us to a friend? Yes
– Other Comments:
The website is really easy to use
The selection of pieces is great
Pricing seems good – with a good range to suit all levels of buyer.
You were really helpful in getting this sent on time overseas for my friend’s wedding.
Really great service and I’d definite;y use you again.
Thank you.
I.K from Somerset purchased ‘At The Piano’ by Zhana Viel.
-Did the Artwork arrive on time, and in good condition? Yes and yes.
-Are you pleased with the Artwork, and is it as described? Yes and yes again
-Where did you find us? Internet search
-Would you recommend us to a friend? Yes
Personal thanks for speed of response. Website easy to access and visually effective.
R.Z from London purchased ‘Abstract 2 The Bridge’ by Jan Rippingham.
Yes, the artwork arrived on time and I am very pleased with it. One thing I could recommend is that you could follow up with an email notifying the purchaser that the artwork has been dispatched etc.

However, the piece arrived in excellent condition and I would purchase again if I found another piece to interest me.


W.G from Buckinghamshire purchased ‘1214’ by Paul Chambers.

I have just received my delivery, so quick, of Artwork 1214 by Paul Chambers. We have been looking for a piece of art to hang in a specific place in our home for 3 years. I came across your site and knew my problem was solved. I love Paul’s work and couldn’t be happier with the picture.


T.C from Middlesex purchased ‘The Plough’ by Jan Rippingham.

I was very pleased with ‘The Plough’.
I wanted something for the bedroom and felt looking at it seemed relaxing plus I liked the way the light was done and the manner the tree line had been broken. I looked through quite a few sites before choosing this painting as I felt it was good value and had something extra compared to the other things I had seen.
I found you via web search engine and would recommend you if a friend was looking to purchase a picture.
B.D from Cornwall purchased ‘Rapeseed 2’.
I can confirm that both  paintings arrived on time and in good condition.
I am very pleased with both,  although the edges of Rapeseed 2 are a bit rough in places and could have been finished better.
I found your site quite by chance on the internet, and was immediately attracted by these two paintings in particular – although there were others I would also have liked to buy. The way in which paintings are displayed on your website (with furniture in a domestic setting) makes it easier to appreciate how they will look when received and  hung.
I will certainly recommend Rippingham’s to friends/family considering buying artwork.
I appreciated the way my order was handled,  particularly the efficient way it was despatched and the advance information I was sent about when to expect delivery.
I hope to do business with you again in the future.
C.S.Q from Hampshire purchased ‘Garden 4’ by Jan Rippingham
The paintings arrived thank you.  They were ordered by my Mum, the one by yourself was a present from her to my daughter for her 21st birthday which she absolutely loves. my mum wanted to give her an original piece of art that will last and this is perfect, something for her to treasure. Thanks again, she will enjoy it very much.I will be recommending the site to friends.
P.S  from  the West Midlands purchased ‘Wind’ by Anastasia Shimshilashvili
Hi – I have received my painting today as promised. I am so delighted with it – it is even better than I expected. I adore it!  Please let the artist
know that I think her work is stunning.
Thank you so much, it has been an absolute pleasure dealing with you.
D.L from Essex purchased ‘Girl’s Head’ by Letts Sculptures

yes the artwork arrived on time and in good condition.
yes I would recommend you to a friend.
M.W from Kent purchased ‘Tower Bridge Velocity’ by Stewart Wilson

To let you know that ‘Velocity’ by Stewart Wilson was received in excellent order,on time and we love it .
I found your website through a google search ( I think) and had it bookmarked for ages.
I would definatley recommend your website and artists to friends..
L.U.  from West Yorkshire purchased ‘Hummingbird’ by Victoria Stothard
My artwork is beautiful and better than described even my husband is now in love with it ;and wants it back in the front room where it was situated after unpacking as he likes to see it and from a non artistic person who does not understand abstract I think it speaks for the beauty of the painting. It arrived in perfect condition and when there was a delay in the delivery which i queried following confirmation of dispatch ,your service was outstanding in chasing and keeping me informed . I found your website via google when looking for a Victoria stothard painting which I had seen and fallen in love with; and after the fantastic service I received from yourselves from order through to delivery I have already been recommending you to friends who appreciate art.
I am hoping that after xmas I will be in a position to treat myself again to another artwork and I guarantee I will be ordering through your company.
K.W.  from West Sussex purchased ‘Memories’ by John Letts.
The artwork arrived quickly, well packed and in excellent condition.  I was thrilled with it.  I have a number of other pieces by John Letts, and I wanted this for my collection.  I discovered you on the internet, and would certainly use you again.
Many thanks.
D.W. from Lincoln purchased 3 Ceramic pieces 
Yes, thank you, they arrived on time and in good condition. I am very pleased with them though the lidded stoneware container by Yuriko Hill is less than 12 cm high, not he 15 cm declared on the site. I found you by just looking on the internet for vases. Yes I would recommend you.
D.K. from Bristol purchased ‘Summer Meadow 3’ by Jan Rippingham
Hi Jan,
We are really pleased with the painting and it has pride of place in our sitting room.
The painting arrived at my place of work within 3 days of ordering and was packaged really well. Once opened we just placed it on the wall.
Your web site is really user friendly and I particularly liked being able to see the size of paintings in situ as we were looking for a large painting to go above a new fireplace we had just had fitted and yours looked perfect!
Everyone who has seen the painting has commented on it and love the bright colours.
With thanks and best wishes
Comments from our Artists 
Alison Johnson –
‘The site looks great, love how you display the art, it looks extremely professional. Lovely to see a ‘real artist’ has set a site up for a change. I wish you all the best with it.’
Jason Keeley-
‘The site works really well – very robust and cleverly designed.’
Paul Chambers – 
‘You have an excellent site – easy to use and I am satisfied with the results I have had in the short time I have been with you. Look forward to many more sales.’
Gail de Cordova-
‘This all has such a good energy about it – I was so pleased to be approached by yourselves as have had quite a few online galleries that were asking me to join for quite a big subscription fee and they had naff work on there too!!
I was so pleased and surprised to sell a print so quickly, especially as I had only uploaded a couple of images and haven’t even put on half of what I would like to!
Your online gallery is a breath of fresh air, I have to say!’
Carrie Hill –
‘I sent one piece of work to you for your approval, and to see if I had done everything right – what an amazing surprise to find that the print has sold! I am delighted, and will now put further work on your website and hope for the same luck.
Thank you! ‘


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John Lowerson’s Watercolour

Bring your old car or motorbike back to life with a watercolour by John Lowerson
My new watercolour paintings, especially my motorbike paintings, represent a new direction for me. Prior to this my work primarily comprised working in 3 dimensions and to a larger size, perhaps installation pieces for specific places. The notion of making a watercolour of almost any subject, provided it interests me, is all very exciting and I enjoy the challenge.
Creativity is always going on and always will. It is a ‘live’ thing. I used to make bespoke individually designed pieces of furniture, and I still make plywood kayaks for my own amusement, they’re great fun, all part of the making process. As an artist you must be forever curious. I continue to produce my watercolours, and they are very popular, perhaps more popular than any work I have made previously. I am working towards being an artist who works to commission, that is a complete endorsement of ones work. My watercolour paintings, on average, are usually around 42cm x 28cm, on high quality watercolour paper. They are signed, and supplied unframed and unmounted.
I am always more than happy to discuss commissions, maybe of your car or bike, or any other idea you may have. Please just contact me via Rippingham Art.
-John Lowerson

watercolour by john lowerson



To see more of John’s work –
For more information on how to commission artwork –

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Wheel thrown, high fired, Porcelain & Stoneware – My Processes by Alex Shimwell

My Processes
My Porcelain ware is of a highly controlled and refined aesthetic. These pieces are gas fired for 12 hours, and under reduction for the final 9 hours from 850 degrees. Gas firing is a smokeless firing and the cleanest way to obtain a reduction firing, allowing me to create precise and accurate pieces exhibiting a high degree of control.
My Stoneware and Crank ware is fired under a rolling reduction in a fast fire wood kiln for 2 days, deposits of ash particles melt into the clay and glaze producing unique and varied results. The aesthetic of these pieces is very energetic and naturally reminiscent of the tors and edges of the peak district where I grew up.
A reduction firing is one where the kiln fuel is starved of the oxygen it needs to burn. The oxygen is therefore removed from the body and glaze on the pot, and replaced by a carbon atom, thus changing the molecular composition of the glaze and the crystals that are formed, drastically altering the colours and effects produced.
View Alex’s work in our Ceramics section
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What was the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood?

pre-raphaelite blue plaque
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was formed by a group of English painters in the 19th century. They longed to return to the tradition of history painting, but with a realistic representation of the beauty of nature, believing that art should no longer be at the expense of truth. Looking to their predecessors they found the ‘Grand Manner’, the artist Raphael and his High Renaissance followers to have been initially responsible for this idealisation. They rejected the belief in the ‘unimprovability’ of Raphael which was still upheld by the Academy and its Schools. Raphael was known to have forgone a truthful aesthetic for one of pure beauty, one that he had himself approximated from classical ideas of beauty. His work, to these young artists, lacked a sincerity in its execution. They concluded that in order to restore true realism they must return to a period in history before Raphael, to a time when artists were honest craftsmen, leading to the name Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
Raphael was known to have abandoned a faithful portrayl of nature, and instead of painting a model here, had imagined a type of beauty and painted this ideal.
The movement was started in 1848 by three young artists, Dante gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, and John Everett Millais. They studied engravings of famous 14th and early 15th century frescoes in the Campo Santo in Pisa, taking note of the strong linear style of drawing and frieze-like arrangement of figures against architectural backgrounds. They were also heavily influenced by the writings of art critic John Ruskin which criticised contemporary art. Ruskin held a belief in the divinity of the natural world and asserted that great art could only be made by painting ‘without deviation from one line of the actual truth.’ They were also influenced by  medieval culture and Romanticism. Rossetti was an aspiring poet and wanted to form a link between romantic poetry and art. The aim therefore became to paint everything from the model or motif as meticulously as possible whilst trying to recreate historical, literary, or biblical scenes.
The Brotherhood would be joined by four more members, William Michael Rossetti, Thomas Woolner, James Collins and Frederic George Stephens. They adopted the, at the time uncommon, practice of painting over a pure white ground in order to give their work a luminosity, translucency and brilliance.
They first exhibited their work in 1849, with ‘Lorenzo and Isabella‘ by Millais as the piece which attracted most attention for its colour, dramatic realism and precise rendering of faces.
The first works received both praise and criticism and the reference to early Italian art was noted. All artists agreed to sign their name and the initials ‘PRB’ on heir work.
‘Christ in the House of his Parents‘ was shown in 1850. Millais stayed true to Pre-Raphaelite principles in his use of his own father as the model for the head of Joseph, and a real carpenter as the body to show correct muscle structure. This painting, along with ‘The Annunciation’ by Rossetti, was subject to heavy attacks by critics. The extent of these was so great that Rossetti vowed never to exhibit in public again. Millais’ work was considered blasphemous and called ‘perverse’, and Charles Dickens wrote that it was ‘odious, repulsive and revolting’. The criticism was largely due to the Pre-Raphaelite position on realism, and the challenges this posed to the prevailing notion that art should present an idealised view of the world. This was compounded by the young ages of the artists, making their criticism of the art of their elders even harder to accept. At this time, some of the artists disbanded and even others who continued to work in the Pre-Raphaelite style ceased to sign their work ‘PRB’.
There were defenders of the Brotherhood, namely Prince Albert, the artist Ford Madox Brown, and John Ruskin, who wrote two letters to The Times in their defence. With this support, fortunes began to turn, and the next exhibition included the masterpieces ‘The Hireling Shepherd’ by Hunt and ‘Ophelia‘ by Millais.
Millais used model Elizabeth Siddal, later Rossetti’s wife, and created a beautiful and haunting painting depicting the suicide of a beautiful virgin – high romantic subject matter.
The artists would also produce work of real life subjects dealing with a moral, social, or ethical problem and in doing so, comment on contemporary society. Ford Madox Brown’s painting ‘Work’ (1852-1865) aims to capture work in all its forms, revealing the whole social structure of society in one composition.
The group lost cohesion after 1853, with the move of Hunt in 1854 to the Holy Land in order to paint truly authentic biblical paintings. The influence of the group continued to grow, however, and inspired artists such as John William Waterhouse, John Brett, Evelyn de Morgan, Philip Calderon, Arthur Hughes, Gustave Moreau and Frederic Sandys.
The group disbanded into two seperate strands, the medieval strand inspired by Rossetti, and the realist strand. Both Hunt and Millais moved towards the realist aspect, with Millais ultimately abandoning Pre-Raphaelitism altogether after 1860. Rossetti’s later work with model Jane Morris became an influence on the work of William Morris. The work of Morris’ company came to influence many interior designers and architects and so the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood had come to ignite an interest in medieval designs.
One of the most well-known later Pre-Raphaelite paintings is ‘The Lady of Shalott‘ (1888) by John William Waterhouse. This painting is a representation of a scene from the poem of the same name by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Even though it has elements taken from the earlier Neo-Classical style, it is typically Pre-Raphaelite in composition, tone and subject matter, depicting a beautiful, vunerable and doomed woman bathed in natural light and painted in meticulous detail.
The influence of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was felt well into the 20th century, and although artistc ideals moved away from realistic representation with the advent of Modernism, the work of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood has seen an increase in appreciation and major revivals in popularity.
There is currently an exhibition at the Tate gallery: ‘Pre-Raphaelites:Victorian Avant Garde.’