The Pre-Raphaelites are of great interest to the VV – not only because of their influence on her own novel writing, but also because of the new exhibition about to open at Tate Britain  - Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde. 

The VV will be visiting very soon and writing more about the exhibition then. But, in the meantime, this past Saturday, September 8, the anniversary of the founding day of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood was celebrated by The Pre-Raphaelite Society who organized a Twitter vote where people were asked to nominate their favourite Pre-Raphaelite painting.

The winner was Millais’ Ophelia, a truly stunning work of art - and the Tate’s best-selling postcard!

In second place was Gabriel Dante Rossetti’s Beata Beatrix, though the VV must confess that she fails to see the allure of this particular work.

Coming third was JW Waterhouse’s magnificent Lady of Shallot.

So, two of the VV’s favourite artists there - with Millais’ darkly brooding A Somnambulist featuring in her novel, The Somnambulist...

And now, J W Waterhouse’s A Mermaid has created the inspiration for Elijah’s Mermaid, which is to be published this coming November.

What is your favourite Pre-Raphalite painting? The VV would love to know.


  1. I can't say which is my favourite but of course the realistic flora of 'Ophelia' makes it a fascinating painting to study in detail. 'The Lady of Shallot' was a popular poster in the University Dormatories of my youth. All are lovely and transport me to another time and place, a beautiful form of escapism.

  2. Yes, something very magical about them. Escapism is the perfect word.

  3. I love the Ophelia painting -- although now that I have seen "Desperate Romantics" I keep picturing her in a bathtub! Wish this exhibition could have been up when I was in London last year. Looks like it will be fantastic.

  4. Well, I'm very fond of your Somnambulist painting but my TOP FAVE is Millais' AUTUMN LEAVES as it appears in a book of mine called THE FABULOUS FANTORA FILES!!

  5. My favourites are the Lady of Shallot and Millais' Marianna. But really I like just about all of them. I'm with you on Beata Beatrix, never warmed to it.
    I went to a Pre-Raphaelite exhibition at the Tate in 1983 and LOVED it. Then we had one visiting here in New Zealand a couple of years ago. I went 2 or 3 times!
    Enjoy the exhibition - I look forward to reading your review of it.

  6. Oh! Just had to add that Chatterton by Henry Wallis is my absolute fav. Can't think why I forgot! I have a beautiful framed print of it. Now there's a painting that could launch a story.

  7. How wonderful that the Tate is doing this exhibition. I look forward to hearing what you think of it. Millais and JW Waterhouse are my favorite Pre-Raphaelite painters. I can't agree with the Rosetti either. But Ophelia is amazing and I have to agree with that. How fun to have a vote.

  8. My favourite has always been Millais's Mariana


    Her world-weary stance is beautifully rendered and that blue velvet dress is to die for!

    (PS. I have read an ARC of 'Elijah's Mermaid' and loved it even more than 'The Somnambulist.'

  9. Loving these choices and will post them soon. Thank you for taking the time to suggest.

    Sally - I'm SO glad you liked EJ. That has made me very happy. Thank you so much for letting me know.

  10. Have had a life long affair with the Pre-Raphs...(a long story) Beata Beatrix is a good painting ( Rossetti did more than one, the one posted is the copy), a beautiful regretful memorial picture - and I am not sure if Waterhouse and the later Arts and Crafts painters are really Pre-Raphs, but I think one of my many favourites (how can I choose?) would be Maddox Brown's The Leaving of England - that little hand beneath the shawl get me even time. And of course the beautiful Rossetti drawings of Lizzie Siddal. And Millais The Dove Returning to the Ark...
    (sorry, won't let me comment with wordpress...)

  11. Absolutely love the per-Raphaelistes. There is so much to say and so much of it to see so I shall most likely trod along to see the exhibition. I have far too many favourites to choose from before ..

    Think you'll like my friend's website.

  12. Thank you for all the comments. Much appreciated. I shall be looking up these website suggestions...

  13. The following, in order of preferences are for me, the masterpieces of the Pre-Raphaelite paintings
    Saint Eulalia by John William Waterhouse
    Lady of Shallot by John William Waterhouse
    Ophelia by John Everett Millais
    The Mourning of Icarus by James Herbert Draper
    Spring by Lawrence Alma-Tadema
    Our English Coast by William Holman Hunt
    Mariana by John Everett Millais
    The golden stairs by Edward Burne-Jones
    Flaming June by Frederic Leighton
    Though Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema is not a proper Pre Raphaelite....