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Radical Makers: The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood

Nov 29, 2012

by TateGalleries

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

We’re huge fans of the Tate Britain: the gallery stands out for its innovative and inspirational exhibitions that draw millions of visitors each year. For this reason, we were incredibly proud to be asked by Tate to organise an Etsy craft fair and workshop within the gallery for their upcoming Late at Tate Britain, in association with their latest exhibition, Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde. We asked the Tate to share some of their favourite contemporary Etsy pieces inspired by the exhibition, and the results are astounding. Here’s Kirstie Beaven from Tate.

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood may seem familiar now (who hasn’t seen a William Morris print design or a red-headed maiden on a card, teatowel or jigsaw puzzle?), but when they first set out in the mid-19th century they were actually startlingly new, breaking all the rules. Led by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, and joined by pioneers like William Morris, this collection of radical young artists went on to influence the worlds of art, craft and design and has given all us craft-lovers, designers and makers something to be grateful for. The Pre-Raphaelites would have loved the ethos of Etsy, and in some ways you could argue everything here bears some relationship to them, but we’ve done our best to pick a few lovely Pre-Raphaelite inspired items.

  • Tilda Green Velvet Asymmetrical Long Sleeve Dress

    The fluid drape of this dress recalls the sumptuous fabrics and rich colours painstakingly depicted in Rosetti’s paintings.
  • Elegant Vintage Inspired Earrings

    These vintage-inspired drop earrings pick up the jewellery in paintings of some of the Pre-raphaelites’ favourite models.
  • Angel Wedding Cape

    How about this lovely collar — though the PRB didn’t have a great record on getting marriages totally right.
  • Antique Arts & Crafts Metal and Linen Woven Trim

    A return to a mediaeval look in their paintings inspired a return to mediaeval styling, as in these fab vintage trimmings.
  • Victorian Art Nouveau 10K Gold Pendant with Coral and Pearls

    Rossetti often used a string of red coral beads in his paintings – the soft colours of corals and pearls were often preferred as alternatives to more blingy gemstones.
  • Custom Gothic Revival Kitchen

    The Victorian craze for a return to the Gothic was seen in all kinds of buildings from ecclesiastical to domestic. This is an amazing handcrafted kitchen in that style.
  • Vintage Lace Underdress

    Floating fabrics with lace trims conjure up the femininity of the PRB's models. At the time, they were not considered beauties, but now are often regarded as the height of femininity.
  • Antique Gothic Revival Stained Glass

    Stained glass is not strongly associated with the Pre-Raphaelites, but Edward Burne-Jones created beautiful, amazingly detailed windows for buildings like Birmingham Cathedral.
  • Bridal Headpiece with Cream Colored Velvet Flowers

    The idea of representing nature realistically in their work now feels romantic rather than radical.
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William Morris founded his artist-run collective in 1861, more than 150 years ago. Behind all the stories of blighted love triangles, drug addiction and romantic intrigues (as well as apparently setting up a private zoo in central London), the PRB were totally committed to the idea that making has the potential to change society. Not only did they try to break down the divisions between the fine and applied arts, they also rebelled against the increasingly industrialised society around them by championing the handmade and craftsman-produced.

©Tate    

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Beloved (‘The Bride’) 1865-6.

Though we often think of poor Lizzie Siddal dying in her cold bath while she modelled for Millais’ Ophelia, the Pre-Raphaelites actually had a progressive attitude to women. Despite being a “brotherhood,” they gave space to women to not just appear in works of art as models, but to be artists themselves, from poet Christina Rossetti, to photographer Julia Margaret Cameron or May Morris, who was director of the embroidery section of her father William’s workshop, designing, making and promoting embroidery as an art form in its own right.

The new exhibition at Tate Britain in London focuses on the ambition and scope of their revolutionary ideas about art, design and society, as well as, of course, the undeniable beauty of what they produced. Bringing together the iconic Pre-Raphaelite paintings with their sculptures, photographs, drawings, embroideries, stained glass and furniture, gives us a great chance to see just how the PRB are still influencing us all today.

Sign up for a chance to win 2 tickets to the Pre-Raphaelites exhibition at Tate Britain! And if you get two friends to sign up, you’ll have a chance to win an additional prize.

For more on Etsy and the Tate, be sure to check out the “Makers on Makers” series on the Tate Blog, where Etsy sellers share their responses to the show.

Angel. wedding cape in white cream ivory or beige. bridal capelet. romantic ruffled tulle ruffled shrug in retro style by KarolinFelix
Angel. wedding cape in white cream ivory or beige. bridal capelet. romantic ruffled tulle ruffled shrug in retro style by KarolinFelix
$62.28 USD
Antique trim Arts & Crafts superb quality metal and linen woven tape  OOAK Pre-Raphaelite 80"
Antique trim Arts & Crafts superb quality metal and linen woven tape OOAK Pre-Raphaelite 80"
Sold
Custom Gothic Revival Kitchen
Custom Gothic Revival Kitchen
$35,000.00 USD
V I N T A G E  Boho Lace Underdress, Slip Dress, Spring/Summer Dress
V I N T A G E Boho Lace Underdress, Slip Dress, Spring/Summer Dress
Sold
Antique Vestment, Religious Gothic Revival Stained Glass, Saint's Robe, Church Window Fragment, Exquisite Artifact
Antique Vestment, Religious Gothic Revival Stained Glass, Saint's Robe, Church Window Fragment, Exquisite Artifact
Sold
RESERVED. Leather Journal / Blank Book  with Tooled Decoration - The Legend
RESERVED. Leather Journal / Blank Book with Tooled Decoration - The Legend
Sold
Bridal Headpiece with Cream Colored Velvet flowers, gold toned crystal beads and glass pearls with woven faux vine free shipping worldwide
Bridal Headpiece with Cream Colored Velvet flowers, gold toned crystal beads and glass pearls with woven faux vine free shipping worldwide
$45.00 USD

3 Featured Comments

  • Aurelas

    Christie Bradley from Aurelas said 4 years ago Featured

    The Pre-Raphaelites are some of my favourite artists and have been a huge inspiration for me, so I was so glad to see them featured here. I think one thing that drew me to them, besides the historical and literary themes they often used and the sumptuousness of the details, is the fact that the women seem so alive and strong, sometimes even when dying. These are women who have minds and souls, not just the usual pretty faces and/or sexy bodies. It is no wonder that some found the Pre-Raphaelites offensive!

  • ScrapHappyLyrebird

    Tess from GildedNotes said 4 years ago Featured

    So happy to see some Pre-Raphaelite love! I have always been particularly fascinated by getting to look at their depictions of Medieval themes through a Victorian eye. Combines two of my biggest interests! This makes me wish I was in the UK to see the exhibit, though we do have some nice pieces here at the Boston MFA.

  • Lizartcreations

    Elizabeth Partridge from LizartCreations said 4 years ago Featured

    What an enlightening post. I love the way a mixture of colors are used to give depth and dimension to an image. The cheeks are not just shades of deep, medium reds and pinks; but greens blues and yellows as well. The daring use of colors as shadows and highlights lend a sumptuous quality to the paintings. Long live the generous use of color!

45 comments

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie said 4 years ago

    Beautiful!

  • AlisaDesign

    Alisa from AlisaDesign said 4 years ago

    Very beautiful!

  • Aurelas

    Christie Bradley from Aurelas said 4 years ago Featured

    The Pre-Raphaelites are some of my favourite artists and have been a huge inspiration for me, so I was so glad to see them featured here. I think one thing that drew me to them, besides the historical and literary themes they often used and the sumptuousness of the details, is the fact that the women seem so alive and strong, sometimes even when dying. These are women who have minds and souls, not just the usual pretty faces and/or sexy bodies. It is no wonder that some found the Pre-Raphaelites offensive!

  • rickrackshack

    Vanessa Ryerse from TheMosaicButterfly said 4 years ago

    My path to being an artist has been so circuitous that I have only just recently started to learn about William Morris. But this is the look that I am always drawn to and I am so energized to feed my mind with articles like this. It is sure to show up in my work.

  • HandiworkinGirls

    HandiworkinGirls from HandiworkinGirls said 4 years ago

    Amazing details! I enjoyed browsing the featured items - the realistic flowers really are romantic.

  • ThreeBarDGifts

    Monica from ThreeBarDGifts said 4 years ago

    Beautiful items related to the Pre-Raphaelites! I love the vintage lace and stained glass.

  • partsbync

    Amy D from PartsbyNC said 4 years ago

    Lovely post...

  • VintageLoot

    Jennifer Johnson from VintageLoot said 4 years ago

    Beautiful art!

  • claudetteherman

    claudette from ZNextDesigns said 4 years ago

    I am so glad you posted this. Beautiful items with a wonderful story behind them. Thank you.

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat from mazedasastoat said 4 years ago

    You've got to love the PRB in all their dysfunctional glory! Odd to think that even after all this time their idea that the lines between art & craft should be blurred and that beautifully made items can change your life for the better are still seen as somehow slightly subversive.

  • PattiTrostle

    Patti Trostle from PattiTrostle said 4 years ago

    Great post! Thank you!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    Victoria Baker from LittleWrenPottery said 4 years ago

    I love the pre-raphaelites they heavily influenced my style of work when I did fine art with their sumptuous colours and beautiful ladies!

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 4 years ago

    very interesting~

  • ScrapHappyLyrebird

    Tess from GildedNotes said 4 years ago Featured

    So happy to see some Pre-Raphaelite love! I have always been particularly fascinated by getting to look at their depictions of Medieval themes through a Victorian eye. Combines two of my biggest interests! This makes me wish I was in the UK to see the exhibit, though we do have some nice pieces here at the Boston MFA.

  • bunnygarden

    molly from bunnygarden said 4 years ago

    Lizzie Siddal didn't die in the bath while posing in the bath, she died of a drug over dose after she lost a baby :(

  • NoFrump

    Ashley of Pamplepluie from Pamplepluie said 4 years ago

    The pre-Raphaelites are my absolute favorite!! Great article. :)

  • kgpaintings

    Kirsten Gilmore from PaintingsByKEGilmore said 4 years ago

    Of the Pre-Raphaelites, I most like John William Waterhouse. Many translucent layers create such depth and nuance of color.

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 4 years ago

    Love the Pre-Raphaelites. Need a group tour to the Tate!

  • Lizartcreations

    Elizabeth Partridge from LizartCreations said 4 years ago Featured

    What an enlightening post. I love the way a mixture of colors are used to give depth and dimension to an image. The cheeks are not just shades of deep, medium reds and pinks; but greens blues and yellows as well. The daring use of colors as shadows and highlights lend a sumptuous quality to the paintings. Long live the generous use of color!

  • meredithdillman

    meredithdillman from meredithdillman said 4 years ago

    Wonderful! They are huge influence on my artwork.

  • PrayerNotes

    Prayer Notes by Cynthia from PrayerNotes said 4 years ago

    Thank you, for enlightening my knowledge of art. This is one of the main reasons that I enjoy etsy. You never leave empty-headed! LOL! I will be studying more about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Again, thank you! ~Cynthia

  • RECCIEatETSY

    Clarice Booth from RECCIEatETSY said 4 years ago

    The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood may seem familiar, but it will never become cliché. Beautiful selections. Good luck with the Pre-Raphaelites exhibition at Tate Britain. Blessings.

  • TheFoundry12

    Brooke and Anthony from TheFoundry12 said 4 years ago

    Beautiful article and selections! If you like the art of the PRB, the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington also has a wonderful collection.

  • sweedishxbunnies

    Maria Turner from sweedishxbunnies said 4 years ago

    These are beautiful!

  • sandrostumpo

    Sandro Stumpo from GalleryDiModa said 4 years ago

    I like how there are Etsy sellers shown, who have great products to match the article.

  • BloomsburyRoad

    Marguerite from BloomsburyRoad said 4 years ago

    A delightful pairing -- studies in Pre-Raphaelites and Etsians!! What a wonderful time to revisit the Tate -- wish I could go! My love for Bohemian is all caught up in the William Morris era and a few decades later with the Bloomsbury Group. Throw in some Art Nouveau and I've found artistic heaven! Thank you to artisans and admin for always bringing depth and respect to Etsy.

  • FranceGallery

    France Gallery from FranceGallery said 4 years ago

    So pretty!

  • valeriephoto

    Valerie from valeriestitchery said 4 years ago

    Nice article. I love the Tate!

  • brownhairweave

    gladys ai said 4 years ago

    I Love the first picture!!

  • DewyMorningVintage

    DewyMorningVintage from DewyMorningVintage said 4 years ago

    Oh the Pre-Raphaelites! If I ever have a wedding day I would love it to be inspired and themed by them. Lush and beautiful! Thank you for this beautiful Pre-Raphaelites study with Etsy artistsand their beautifully inspired pieces.

  • atelierwilfried

    wilfried Senoner from atelierwilfried said 4 years ago

    interesting indeed, thanks for sharing!

  • LoveButtons

    Julia K Walton from FireHorseVintageHQ said 4 years ago

    I love the rich colours and romantic imagery of the Pre-Raphaelites. I had a copy of the Ophelia painting on my bedroom wall as a student. Beauty, even in death.

  • nowvintage

    Bobbie from nowvintage said 4 years ago

    I love the Tate gallery! I have only been to England once but I found in the Tate some of the best examples of the artists that they represent! The Rothco room is an amazing experience!

  • LucyWayne

    Lucy Wayne from LucyWayne said 4 years ago

    I saw the exhibition on Saturday, I was in heaven it is SO beautiful. Such exquisite paintings. LOVE LOVE LOVE!

  • ovgilliesdesigns

    Olga from OVGilliesDesigns said 4 years ago

    The art works are quite amazing when seen up close & the style is timeless in it's classicism. Thanks for sharing here on Etsy.

  • JewelleryStudio

    Theresa Hing from TheresaHingJewellery said 4 years ago

    Pre-Raphaelites, William Morris and the Arts & Crafts Movement - inspirational. Kelmscott Manor is well worth a visit. You actually get a taste of what it must have been like to be a part of it.

  • Skullbag

    Skullbag from Skullbag said 4 years ago

    A gothic kitchen - now there's something to aspire to. Anybody visiting the north of England (Northumberland) should make time for Cragside House, it is full of treasure from this era including some original William Morris stained glass and the most astonishing fireplace you will ever see.

  • beadsofaquarius

    Mouna Marini from beadsofaquarius said 4 years ago

    Pre Raphaelite is one of my favorite art periode , thank you so much for sharing this ! i wish i was in england to see the exhibit ! ;)

  • ulovejewelry

    Universal Love Jewelry from ULoveJewelry said 4 years ago

    Lovely Art!!!!!! great blog post :)

  • ulovejewelry

    Universal Love Jewelry from ULoveJewelry said 4 years ago

    I'd love to see this exhibit in person.

  • anthropomorphica

    Melanie Ashton from anthropomorphica said 4 years ago

    That's going to be a great exhibition! I saw a similar one in Paris about a year ago and it was incredible to see such a rich variety of work from Morris Pre-Raphaelites and Beardsley. if you have the opportunity definitely see it!!!!

  • butikonline83

    Hendri . from butikonline83 said 4 years ago

    This is a smart blog. I mean it. You have so much knowledge about this issue, and so much passion. You also know how to make people rally behind it, obviously from the responses. Youve got a design here thats not too flashy, but makes a statement as big as what youre saying. Great job, indeed.

  • pennybrownbridal

    Rachel White from PennyBrownBridal said 4 years ago

    Amazing! Exactly where I get my inspiration, I visited a Pre-Raphaelites exhibition last year and it was incredible!

  • Namaz

    Nazima Banka from nazimabanka said 4 years ago

    beautiful era

  • fyberknitics

    Donna Jones from fyberknitics said 4 years ago

    I was fortunate enough to be able to go and see this exhibition in London last weekend and was certainly not disappointed. It was a fab experience to see such well known pieces in the flesh - breathtaking in some cases. Equally lovely to learn of other less well known treasures. Colours were mouthwatering... And leaves me wanting to learn more about this particular movement

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