Pre-Raphaelitism and the professional ideal : art, criticism, and sexuality

Priest, Robert Charles (1995). Pre-Raphaelitism and the professional ideal : art, criticism, and sexuality. PhD thesis The Open University.



This dissertation examines the professional ideal in relation to the development and transformation of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood between the late 1840s and the 1880s.

The first chapter examines how one might relate the recent theoretical work on nineteenth-century professionalism by Harold Perkin to the distinctive art practice of the Pre-Raphaelites.

In chapter two, the discussion focuses on how the professional ideal was shaped by the development of a frequently hostile periodical press that insisted on seeing the Pre-Raphaelites as a distinctive group.

The third chapter considers how the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood developed professional identities that diverged from the careers of those artists sponsored by the Royal Academy. The chapter looks in particular at the innovative exhibiting strategies that the Pre-Raphaelites undertook to market their work.

Chapter Four compares how differently John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti responded to attacks on Pre-Raphaelitism, and how they were ultimately drawn to contrasting aspects of professionalism. Their divergent careers reveal a major tension between entrepreneurial and professional ideals in the art market.

The final chapter examines the 'fleshly school' controversy that surrounded Rossetti and the early Aesthetes of the 1870s. This concluding study reveals how Rossetti's contentious representation of sexual subject-matter played a crucial role in the consolidation of the professional ideal.

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