Last week I wrote a post about the Pre-Raphaelite that led to some questions about the original Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. I thought today I would write a little bit about the founding members of the PRB, and the major players among them.
Although there were seven original members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the founding members of the Brotherhood were really Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais. These three have had the most lasting influence from among the original seven, and there work is the best known. After the idea for the PRB had been developed by Rossetti, Hunt and Millais, Rossetti invited his brother William, a clerk at the Inland Revenue Office, into the group as well. Interestingly, at the time the the Brotherhood was founded, William was neither a painter nor a serious writer. Nevertheless, he was the founding member's brother, and I suppose you can't blame Rossetti for wanting to include his family members!(Christina Rossetti was also an important part of the group, though she was excluded from the Brotherhood by reason of her sex).
Thomas Woolner, the fifth member of the PRB, was a sculptor who was introduced to the Brotherhood by D.G. Rossetti. In his biography of Rossetti, Evelyn Waugh is anxious to point out that Thomas Woolner married a Waugh (Alice Waugh). So too, did William Holman Hunt--twice. He first married Fanny Waugh, and when she died in childbirth, he married her sister, Edith. This was illegal in Britain at the time and he had to travel abroad in order to marry her!(Waugh, 35). No wonder Waugh was so interested in the Pre-Raphaelites!
James Collinson, a convert to Roman Catholicism had torrid on again/off-again relationships with both Christina Rossetti and the Catholic Church--both of which often seemed to hold far more interest to him than his painting--was the next to join. Frederick George Stephens was the seventh and final member of the original group. Stephens was a student of William Holman Hunt and his membership in the Brotherhood may have been due as much to Rossetti's superstition (a desire for a perfect seven-member group) as to any supposed artistic contribution from Stephens.
Source consulted: Evelyn Waugh. Rossetti, His Life and Works. London: The Folcraft Press, 1969.
Image: William Holman Hunt, Rienzi Vowing to Obtain Justice