The Metropolitan Chapter of the Victorian Society in America

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Painting Dissent: The American Pre-Raphaelite Movement

January 23, 2023 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

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The American Pre-Raphaelites launched the earliest reform movement in the history of American art. Founded in 1863, in the midst of the American Civil War, the movement comprised politically radical, abolitionist artists, joined by like-minded architects, critics, and scientists. In the decade that followed, the American Pre-Raphaelites executed paintings, designed buildings, and published criticism that married principles of social equity, civic engagement, and beauty. Such work, they believed, could foster lasting cultural and political reform.

This lecture explores how the American Pre-Raphaelites dismantled national traditions of painting, embracing models of landscape theory and artistic praxis drawn from their British counterparts across the Atlantic. In contrast to their more prominent colleagues, the artists now known as the “Hudson River School,” the American Pre-Raphaelites established themselves as eloquent critics of slavery and antebellum American society.

Sophie Lynford is the Annette Woolard-Provine Curator of the Bancroft Collection of Pre-Raphaelite Art at the Delaware Art Museum. She is a specialist in nineteenth-century British and American art. Prior to joining the Delaware Art Museum, she was the Rousseau Curatorial Fellow in European Art at the Harvard Art Museums, the Douglass Foundation Fellow in American Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worked in the curatorial departments of the New-York Historical Society and the Yale Center for British Art. Her book, Painting Dissent: Art, Ethics, and the American Pre-Raphaelites, was published by Princeton University Press in fall 2022.


Caption information: Thomas Charles Farrer, A Buckwheat Field on Thomas Cole’s Farm, 1863.Oil on canvas, 11 3/4 x 25 1/4 in. (29.8 x 64.1 cm). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of Maxim Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1815–1865.



January 23, 2023
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm