In 1848 Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt and four other artists founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in London.

The name referring to the period before the great Renaissance artist Raphael was the group’s program as they turned stylistically and thematically to medieval art and to Italian painting of the 14th and early 15th century. The symbolically loaded color, the interest in the fresco technique, the attentive study of nature and the depiction of Christian, literary and socially critical themes were at the center of the Pre-Raphaelites’ art. They revolted against the classicist teachings of the British Royal Academy and strove for an aesthetic that permeated all areas of life. Although the Brotherhood broke up in 1853, just five years after it was founded, the Pre-Raphaelites are still seen as the most influential artists’ group in late 19th century Britain. Some of the members founded the Arts and Crafts movement that sought to achieve a synthesis of art and traditional craftsmanship. Moreover, the pictorial world of the Pre-Raphaelites with their strong bent for mysticism, the subjective emotionality of their depictions in the guise of literary references and their frequent use of allegorical allusions places them in close proximity to Symbolism.