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Dinah Birch

(b London, Feb 8, 1819; d Brantwood, Cumbria, Jan 20, 1900).

English writer, draughtsman, painter and collector. He was one of the most influential voices in the art world of the 19th century. His early writings, eloquent in their advocation of J(oseph) M(allord) W(illiam) Turner and Pre-Raphaelitism and their enthusiasm for medieval Gothic, had a major impact on contemporary views of painting and architecture. His later and more controversial works focused attention on the relation between art and politics and were bitter in their condemnation of what he saw as the mechanistic materialism of his age.

Ruskin was the only child of prosperous Scottish parents living in London: his father was a wine merchant, his mother a spirited Evangelical devoted to her husband and son. Ruskin had a sequestered but happy childhood. He became an accomplished draughtsman (taught by Copley Fielding and James Duffield Harding) and acquired, through engravings encountered in Samuel Rogers’s poem Italy (1830), an early enthusiasm for Turner’s art. He was also an eager student of natural science, particularly geology. He travelled with his parents, seeing Venice for the first time in ...


Dianne Sachko Macleod

(b London, Oct 10, 1828; d Hammersmith, London, March 9, 1907).

English critic and painter. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools, London, from 1844 and was a founder-member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848. He modelled for works by fellow Pre-Raphaelites, such as John Everett Millais’s Ferdinand Lured by Ariel (1849; Makins priv. col.), and contributed articles to The Germ. His attempts at painting are awkward and works such as the unfinished Morte d’Arthur (1850–5; London, Tate) display difficulty with perspective. He abandoned painting in the late 1850s and attempted to destroy all of his works; only five paintings (all London, Tate) and one drawing (Oxford, Ashmolean) survive. Thereafter, although he taught drawing at University College School (1870–1902), he made his living from writing.

Stephens was the chief art critic of the Athenaeum until 1901, when he was replaced by Roger Fry. His reviews advanced the cause of contemporary British art by encouraging middle-class patronage and the dissemination of inexpensive prints. Initially his reviews were biased in favour of his former Pre-Raphaelite colleagues; however, by the 1880s he was more objective about the success of his friends....


T. A. J. Burnett

(b London, April 5, 1837; d London, April 10, 1909).

English poet and critic. His letters and critical writings reveal him as unusually learned about, and sensitive to, the visual arts. His interest in painting was stimulated in 1857 when he met Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris at Oxford and, under their influence, adopted Pre-Raphaelite ideals. The effect on his poetry was transitory, but it was important for his prose and criticism. His Poems and Ballads (London, 1866), revolutionary in technique and in emphasis on erotic subject-matter, caused a sensation. William Blake (1868), an influential work of Victorian art criticism and Swinburne’s most important contribution in that field, not only promoted Blake’s re-evaluation but was also a powerful manifesto of Art for Art’s Sake and of Symbolist Aestheticism. For Swinburne the only correct response to a work of art was another work of art; hence his poetic, impressionistic and highly subjective prose criticism, with many synaesthetic comparisons (in ...