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date: 21 September 2020

Pre-Raphaelitism, American 

The Oxford Dictionary of American Art and Artists

Ann Lee Morgan

Term designating a mid-nineteenth-century tendency inspired by the painters of the British Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, who admired the simplicity and purity they perceived in work of early Renaissance artists preceding Raphael. Following the English painters’ devotion to exactingly illusionistic detail, glossy finish, and moral urgency, American Pre-Raphaelites generally applied these precepts to depiction of landscape or other natural subjects, such as still lifes set outdoors. Few Americans were drawn to the didactic and frequently sentimental narratives favored in England, and most rejected the high-keyed color and decorative elaboration associated with the style there. Although the number of Americans who identified themselves with the movement remained small, the Pre-Raphaelite ideal of truth to nature and the Brotherhood’s conflation of art, nature, and ethical or spiritual goals resonated widely in the United States. As a spokesman for its ideals, the respected English aesthetician and art critic ... ...

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