Online resource round-up: Pre-Raphaelites

By Rachel Hayward | 15 July 2009
Showing woman with long hair in boat

(Above) (Currently showing at the Royal Academy Waterhouse Exhibition until September 13 2009) J W Waterhouse, The Lady of Shalott (1888). Picture © Tate, London

2009 is a great year to teach the Pre-Raphaelites, largely due to a sumptuous Waterhouse Exhibition at the Royal Academy in London and also the fantastic new online resources from Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG).

Here’s a round-up of those resources and also what else is available on this influential group of artists.

The Royal Academy has a teachers and students’ online guide to accompany its blockbuster Pre-Raphaelite retrospective JW Waterhouse: The Modern Pre-Raphaelite Exhibition and offers accessible background information on the Pre-Raphaelites.

Showing artist materials including paints

(Above) BMAG's website The Pre-Raph Pack.

If you want a completely pupil-friendly overview of the Pre-Raphaelites (and much, much more), discover the rich delights of the Pre-Raph Pack BMAG web resource.

Showing headshot picture of man with beard on website page

The Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource site from BMAG hosts the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite art.

If it’s pixel perfect images of the Pre-Raphaelites you are after, then try the fantastic, Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource from BMAG. This offers access to 2,000 fine and decorative pieces from BMAG’s Pre-Raphaelite collection.

The site uses Microsoft Silverlight technology, which has a Deep Zoom function and allows the viewer to see the intense Pre-Raphaelite colours, brush strokes and pencil etchings in high quality detail.

Showing a note reading PITY The BLIND pinned to the shawl of a young blind girl

A screenshot from BMAG's Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource site featuring a close-up of John Everett Millais' Blind Girl (1865).

You can now scrutinise the works in extraordinary detail. For example, in John Everett Millais' Blind Girl (1856), you can see vital details to unlock the painting’s meaning such as the note under the girl's shawl which is half hidden in shadow.

The note reads "PITY The BLIND" and further highlights the contemporary social issue of vagrancy in the work with a focus on children and disability.

Showing a woman and a baby both wearing long dresses

(Above) A close-up of Ford Maddox Brown's The Pretty Baa-Lambs (1851-59) on BMAG's Pre-Raphaelite Online Resource site.

The artists’ techniques as well as their focus on contemporary problems can also be investigated with the Deep Zoom function.

A close-up examination of The Pretty Baa-Lambs (1851-59) by Ford Maddox Brown reveals exquisite plein-air details such as the mother’s rosy face, the shadows cast by the sun at a particular time of day and the colour of the shadow itself. Note how the shadow cast by the flowers the baby is holding is actually blue.

Showing painting of mother and baby looking at lambs

(Above) A screenshot from BMAG's BeMused site showing Ford Maddox Brown's The Pretty Baa-Lambs (1851-59).

Once your younger pupils have looked at the painting close-up, they can try BMAG’s Baa-Lambs Quiz The Pretty Baa-Lambs on their microsite, BeMused.

Showing a man in a white shirt and hat in a website interactive

(Above) A screenshot from Manchester Art Gallery's interactive on Ford Maddox Brown’s Work (1852-65).

Manchester Art Gallery has a great interactive on another famous work of the artist. Work (1852-65) has an audio-visual introduction and exploration of the painting including six of the painting's characters coming to life.

Showing a painting of a girl lying in the water

(Above) Screenshot of Sir John Everett Millais' Ophelia, (1851-1852) taken from Tate's website.

Tate have a detailed web resource on Millais’ painting, Ophelia which it created for its 2008 Millais exhibition.

There is a section on the painting's subject and meaning as well as detail on the materials and techniques used. There's even an online Ophelia Quiz.

Showing list of teaching resources

(Above) Screenshot of Pre-Raphaelite resources on Tate's website.

Tate has further resources for Millais. You'll also find resources on other key Pre-Raphaelites under the titles: Pre-Raphaelite Vision and The Victorians.

Showing bust of naked woman with an arrow piercing her chest

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Venus Verticordia (1864-8). Picture courtesy Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth

If this inspires you and your class to go along and see the real works, museums and galleries around the country have a wealth of Pre-Raphaelite art on show.

From Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery in Scotland with work by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones down to the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in Bournemouth with Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Venus Verticordia (1864-8).

Culture24’s Guide to the Pre-Raphaelites is a must for background detail as well as a list of all the Pre-Raphaelite venues.