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The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in 1848 by a group of English painters: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt, as well as poets and critics: William Michael Rossetti, an art critic and Dante's younger brother; the art critic Frederic George Stephens; the painter James Collinson; and the sculptor and poet Thomas Woolner. Millais left the group in 1859, but as the second generation Pre-Raphaelites arose, other English artists joined it, including the painter Edward Coley Burne-Jones; the poet and artist William Morris was never a Pre-Raphaelite in the true conception of the term.

The group reacted against the Victorian materialism and the conventions of the Royal Academy in London and was inspired by medieval and early Renaissance painters up to and including the Italian painter Raphael. They found their inspiration at first from the bible, history and poems, but soon the subjects from modern life were also used rooted in realism and truth to nature. Pre-Raphaelite art became distinctive for its blend of archaic, romantic, and moralistic qualities.

Inspired by the teachings of John Ruskin and the landscapes of Madox Brown and Holman Hunt, young men, mainly from the north of England, were inspired to create a loosely knit movement of Pre-Raphaelite landscape painters. In Liverpool, the Liverpool School of Painters was based around the Liverpool Academy of Arts. (1) The Liverpool artists who exhibited there alongside the London Pre-Raphaelites were William Davis, Daniel Alexander Williamson, William JJC Bond, William Huggins, John Edward Newton, James Campbell, William Lindsay Windus, Alfred William Hunt and John Wright Oakes. J W Inchbold and John Atkinson Grimshaw were both born in Leeds.

When John Ruskin published volume 4 of Modern Painters in 1856, where he wrote passionately on alpine scenery and geological landscape forms, many young artists from all over Britain were inspired.

1. H C Marillier, The Liverpool School of Painters: An Account of the Liverpool Academy, from 1810 to 1867, with Memoirs of the Principal Artists, John Murray 1904

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