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The Pre-Raphaelites


About our Pre-Raphaelite artworks

The Pre-Raphaelite artworks that can be seen at National Museums Liverpool's art galleries are among the best in the world. You can find Pre-Raphaelite art at the Walker Art Gallery, Lady Lever Art Gallery and Sudley House.

The Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood was formed in London in 1848 by seven young artists dissatisfied with the standards prevailing in British Art. Its three chief members were William Holman Hunt (1829-1910), John Everett Millais (1829-96) and Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82). They advocated an art of extreme 'truth to nature', which they understood in different ways. They painted in bright, hard colours with great attention to detail, and frequently chose high-minded moralistic subjects, loaded with symbolism. They called themselves Pre-Raphaelites because they admired the ‘primitive’ artists of the Italian renaissance, working before the period of Raphael.

Although their exhibited works, which include Millais’ ‘Isabella’, were reviled on their first public exhibition, the group rapidly became popular and influential. Liverpool particularly established itself as a notable source of support in the mid-1850s when its Academy repeatedly awarded its annual prize to Pre-Raphaelite paintings. Liverpool became the only provincial town to have its own school of Pre-Raphaelite artists (The Liverpool Academy). Meanwhile, 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 our collections.

Explore related


  • Merseyside Painters, People & Places - Catalogue of Oil Paintings

    Mary Bennett

    Author: Mary Bennett
    Publisher: J H Leeman Ltd
    Date: 1978

  • Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion

    Newall, Christopher; Bukantas, Ann; David Taylor

    Author: Newall, Christopher; Bukantas, Ann; David Taylor
    Publisher: Liverpool University Press and National Museums Liverpool
    Date: 2016
    Description: Featuring more than 100 works of art from celebrated Pre-Raphaelite artists, this fascinating new research into Pre-Raphaelite painters and collectors positions Liverpool as the Victorian art capital of the north. This book accompanies the exhibition Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion, held at the Walker Art Gallery in 2016.


  • Christie's Auction House Sale Frederick Richards Leyland

    Start date:
    End date:
    Description: F R Leyland Christie's sale 28 May 1892

  • Christie's Auction House sale of the collection of B G Windus 19 July 1862

    Start date:
    End date:
    Description: Christie's Auction House sale of the collection of B G Windus 19 July 1862


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