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The Pre-Raphaelites

Mary and the infant Christ on a donkey

Detail of 'The Triumph of the Innocents' William Holman Hunt

The Pre-Raphaelite paintings that can be seen at National Museums Liverpool venues are among the best in the world. Liverpool was the only provincial town to have its own school of Pre-Raphaelite artists (The Liverpool Academy). Merchants and industrialists in the area often added Pre-Raphaelite pictures to their own collections and several of these have, over the years, found their way into public galleries.

The three members of the 'Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood' were John Millais, William Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.You find out more about them and their work on our featured artists page.

In this special feature you can take a closer look at some of the works in our collections. Each painting is examined in detail, in particular looking at the following areas:

  • Subject matter - Pre-Raphaelite paintings are often about serious or religious subjects
  • Symbolism - many Pre-Raphaelite paintings contain visual symbols
  • Technique - Pre-Raphaelite painters often used bright, clear colours and small detailed brushwork with paint put onto a wet white 'ground'. Landscape painting was often done out-of-doors with and concerned with 'truth to nature'
  • Literary links - the painters' inspiration often came from literature.

Pre-Raphaelite treasures book

Discover more about the Pre-Raphaelite treasures at National Museums Liverpool in our book, available from the online shop.


Title: Morecambe Bay from Warton Crag
Artist: Daniel Alexander Williamson
Date: 1862

Title: Spring, Arnside Knot and Coniston range of hills from Warton Crag
Artist: Daniel Alexander Williamson
Date: around 1863

Title: The Blessed Damozel
Artist: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date: about 1875-81

Title: The Two Mothers
Artist: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date: between 1850 and 1865

Title: Dante's Dream
Artist: Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Date: 1871

Title: Girl with Jug of Ale and Pipes
Artist: James Campbell
Date: 1856

Title: News from My Lad
Artist: James Campbell
Date: 1859

Title: The Dragon's Den
Artist: James Campbell
Date: first exhibited in 1854

Title: Waiting for Legal Advice
Artist: James Campbell
Date: 1857

Title: The Stonebreaker
Artist: John Brett
Date: 1857 or 1858

Title: Isabella
Artist: John Everett Millais
Date: 1849

Title: Sweethearts and Wives
Artist: John Lee
Date: 1860

Title: Going to Market
Artist: John Lee
Date: June 1860

Title: View from Bidston Hill
Artist: William Davis
Date: first exhibited in 1865

Title: At Hale, Lancashire
Artist: William Davis
Date: between1860 and 1870

Title: The Scapegoat
Artist: William Holman Hunt
Date: 1854-5

Title: The Triumph of the Innocents
Artist: William Holman Hunt
Date: between 1876 and 1887

Further information