The Pre-Raphaelites were a group of 19th-century English painters who reacted against Victorian materialism and the neoclassical conventions of academic art by producing earnest, quasi-religious works. The group was inspired by medieval and early Renaissance painters up to the time of Raphael.
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was established in 1848, and its central figure was the painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Essentially Christian in outlook, together they sought to revitalize art through a simpler, more positive vision. In portrait painting, for example, the group eschewed the somber colors and formal structure preferred by the Royal Academy. They found their inspiration in the comparatively sincere, religious, and scrupulously detailed art of the Middle Ages.
Pre-Raphaelite art became distinctive for its blend of archaic, romantic, and moralistic qualities, but much of it has been criticized as superficial and sentimental, if not artificial.