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The Pre-Raphaelites are known for their depiction of the female form, often in romantic and epic settings. Mainstream Victorian art portrayed religious and classical figures as irreproachable and divine. In this curation we will look at how the Pre-Raphaelites humanised their subjects, taking them from the divine to an earthly beauty.

Another change the Pre-Raphaelites ushered in was the depiction of epic events through smaller moments. In such uncertain times, we can turn to the Pre-Raphaelites for beautified escapism intertwined with relatable ennui. In this collection we will look at some of the quieter moments in Pre-Raphaelite art, often finding our heroines in a moment of reflection or even boredom.

By Molly Fennelly, Volunteer

7 artworks
Study for 'Washing Hands'
Photo credit: The Fitzwilliam Museum

Study for 'Washing Hands' 1865

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882)

Graphite on paper

H 47 x W 34.9 cm

The Fitzwilliam Museum

La Belle Iseult
Photo credit: Tate

La Belle Iseult 1858

William Morris (1834–1896)

Oil on canvas

H 71.8 x W 50.2 cm


Lady Clare
Photo credit: The Fitzwilliam Museum

Lady Clare

Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal (1829–1862)

Pen & ink, brown wash & black wash over graphite on paper

H 14.9 x W 11.5 cm

The Fitzwilliam Museum

Effie with Foxgloves in Her Hair (The Foxgloves) (Euphemia 'Effie' Chalmers Gray, 1828–1898, Mrs John Ruskin)
Photo credit: National Trust Images

Effie with Foxgloves in Her Hair (The Foxgloves) (Euphemia 'Effie' Chalmers Gray, 1828–1898, Mrs John Ruskin) 1853

John Everett Millais (1829–1896)

Oil on millboard

H 22.5 x W 20.5 cm

National Trust, Wightwick Manor

Wandering Thoughts
Photo credit: Manchester Art Gallery

Wandering Thoughts c.1855

John Everett Millais (1829–1896)

Oil on canvas

H 35.2 x W 24.9 cm

Manchester Art Gallery

The Gilded Cage
Photo credit: De Morgan Collection

The Gilded Cage probably 1901–1902

Evelyn De Morgan (1855–1919)

Oil on canvas

H 910 x W 108.7 cm

De Morgan Collection

Photo credit: Lady Lever Art Gallery

Fatidica 1894

Frederic Leighton (1830–1896)

Oil on canvas

H 153 x W 111 cm

Lady Lever Art Gallery