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Although the Pre-Raphaelites left no set of rules, their intentions as a group were clear. They valued sincerity and praised truth; sought perfection in small things but chose 'important' subjects: religious, literary or from modern life, preferably with an underlying moral message. This represents the serious side of a group of high-spirited young men. More accessible, perhaps, is the thought of Rossetti, together with his studio assistant, strolling the streets of London, spotting "stunners", their pet name for beautiful girls, and then following them home to obtain their parents' permission to paint them.

There are two sorts of disciples. Those who become more fanatical than the initiators and those, in contrast, who throw the manifesto out the window and simply pick out the elements of the original doctrine that they like best.

There can be no doubt that John William Waterhouse was of the second school. He loved beautiful women and paid homage to both versions of his role-model's "stunners". The first Rossettian model type was the wan, pale, waif-like Titian-haired Lizzie Siddal. The alternative model was taken from the robust, lusciously raven-haired, strong jaw-lined Jane Morris.

Waterhouse's celebration of fair women kept alive the spirit of Pre-Raphaelitism so that his younger followers like John Byam Shaw could carry the torch firmly into the heart of the twentieth century.

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A William IV Tray
Silver London 1832 Maker's mark of John Waterhouse
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Koopman Rare Art