Upcoming events for the PRS are as follows:

27 January 2018

Lecture by Dr. Katie Faulkner – ‘Pre-Raphaelite Sculpture’.

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m.

Pre-Raphaelitism is intrinsically linked to the detailed and luminous paintings of Rossetti, Millais and Holman Hunt, but can we also see Ruskin’s principles of ‘truth to nature’ in sculpture in the 1840’s and 50’s? This lecture will introduce some of the sculptors associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood such as Thomas Woolner, Alexander Munro, John Lucas Tupper and John Hancock and explores how their work intersects with Pre-Raphaelite aesthetics and subject matter.

Dr. Katie Faulkner is a lecturer at The Courtauld Institute of Art and at Arcadia University in London. She is also widening participation and academic skills coordinator at The Courtauld. She is currently working on a book project on the boundaries between sculpture and performance in the nineteenth century, and also has forthcoming publications focusing on sculpture and the decorative arts, as well as performance and masculinity in Victorian photography. She has recently published articles on the sculptors Hamo Thornycroft, Gilbert Bayes and the painting and sculpture of G.F. Watts.

17 February 2018

Lecture by Brendan Flynn – ‘The Gaskins – An Arts and Crafts Partnership’.

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m.

Trained at Birmingham School of Art, Arthur and Georgie Gaskin became leading members of the Arts and Crafts movement in the UK. Arthur was one of the first tempera revival painters, while Georgie specialised in exquisite hand-made jewellery. Both were talented book illustrators in the Pre-Raphaelite style. This talk explores their creative relationship and development of their work.

Brendan Flynn was Keeper of Fine Art and later Senior Curator of Visual Art at Wolverhampton Art Gallery. In 1998, he was appointed Curator of Fine Art at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery where he developed the Pre-Raphaelite, Modern British and Contemporary International Art Collections. He retired in 2012 and is now working as a freelance curator and lecturer.

24 March 2018

Lecture by Thomas Hughes – ‘The Rose and The Worm: – Ruskin, Pater and ‘Realism’ in Nineteenth Century Painting’.

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m.

Describing the landscape painting of J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), Ruskin develops a theory of a kind of ‘realism’ that combines the conventional nineteenth-century meaning of representing contemporary social reality with Romantic ‘imagination’. Ruskin’s ‘realism’ confronts modernity in Turner’s painting as industrial capitalism in England but rejects this modernity, bringing about the collapse of Ruskin’s whole idea about the place of painting and beauty in society, and the rose is consumed by the worm. Pater takes up Ruskin’s imaginative ‘realism’ and constructs a theory of the painting of Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) in which Ruskin’s icons of the rose and the worm are combined into a ambiguous and beautiful Aestheticism in which history and modernity coexist.

Thomas Hughes is completing his PhD thesis on John Ruskin, Walter Pater and Aestheticism at The Courtauld Institute of Art supervised by Professor Caroline Arscott. His thesis argues that some important art historical processes occurred in the language that came to be used to describe art and considers the intense continuities between Ruskin, Pater and Aestheticism in nineteenth-century art and culture. He has given papers at the universities of Lancaster, Cardiff, Rennes 2 and NYU Florence and at The Courtauld.

Please note:

  • Admission for all regular lectures is charged at £8.00 – there is no admission charge for our Founder’s Day lecture. Charges for visits are available on application.

  • Pre-booking for all lectures is strongly advised – venues have limited seating capacity and if you attend without pre-booking you risk being turned away.

  • The Society reserves the right to allocate lecture applications on a first-come, first-served basis where demand for places exceeds venue capacity.

  • The Society reserves the right to cancel, alter, or postpone any events, as it may consider expedient or necessary.

  • Members are reminded that they should have adequate personal and travel insurance cover when attending any Society event.

  • Disclaimer Participation in any event is entirely at your own risk. The Society cannot accept any liability for injury, loss, or damage, however caused.

  • For a booking form or for any questions concerning an event please email

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Past Events

11 November 2017

Lecture by Dr. Peter Bryden – ‘Social Realism and Victorian Art’.

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m.

Social Realism can be very simply defined as ‘the depiction of poverty’. Social Realism can be represented in art but also in literature (for example in the work of Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy), in journalism, photography, theatre and nowadays in film and television. This lecture focuses on Social Realist artwork in the Victorian era and in particular on the work of a group of artists who worked for the pioneering ‘Graphic’ magazine from its first edition in 1869 until the end of the nineteenth century. The three most important ‘Graphic’ artists were Luke Fildes, Frank Holl and Hubert Herkomer – their Social Realist art will be examined in detail in this lecture. In addition, some of the social and political factors which influenced the development of Social Realist art in the Victorian period will be considered, together with a comparison of other schools of art such as Neo-Classicism and Aestheticism, also current during the period in question.

Dr. Peter Bryden qualified in Medicine in 1976 and worked as a General Practitioner in Hastings for thirty two years. He retired from his practice in 2010, continuing to work part time as a locum. In preparation for retirement he decided to further his interest in the History of Art and enrolled at Birkbeck College, University of London, being awarded an MA degree in the History of Art and Architecture in 2012. He specialises in Victorian Art – his dissertation was entitled ‘Painting and the Victorian Poverty Industry ‘. He has lectured on various and diverse aspects of Victorian Art, running weekend courses at Dillington House in Somerset and lecturing at various other venues, having recently delivered a lecture on Social Realism to the prestigious London Art History Society.

21 October 2017

Annual General Meeting and Founder’s Day Lecture titled ‘The Neo Pre-Raphaelites: Taking Pre-Raphaelitism into the 21st Century’ with Dr. Anne Anderson.

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham. AGM starts at 10.30 a.m. Lecture starts at 12.00 p.m.

The Neo-Pre-Raphaelites can be seen as either perpetuating or reviving the Pre-Raphaelite tradition. The Birmingham Group, which numbered Joseph Southall (1861-1944), Henry Arthur Payne (1868-1940) and Sidney Meteyard (1868-1947), still felt connected to Pre-Raphaelitism; born in the Sixties several had direct contact with Burne-Jones. For them Pre-Raphaelitism was a living tradition, its Arts and Crafts dimension, most notably tempera painting, offering a way forward. Frank Cadogan Cowper (1877-1958), who,being slightly younger did not feel this special bond, looking beyond Morris and Burne-Jones to the earlier day of the Brotherhood. A rediscovery of Millias, Holman Hunt, Rossetti and Arthur Hughes led to revival of early Pre-Raphaelite ideals, a return to the naturalistic detail and clarity of painting associated with the 1850’s and 1860’s. By 1910 Cowper and Shaw, alongside Ernest Board (1877-1934), Frank Salisbury (1874-1962), Denis Eden (1878-1949) and Henry Arthur Payne (1868-1940) had been dubbed ‘Neo-Pre-Raphaelites’ following a joint commission to decorate the East Corridor of the Palace of Westminster with scenes from the Tudor period. It was the German art critic Hermann Muthesius who coined the epithet ‘Neo-Pre-Raphaelites’, seeing these artists as ‘the most promising hope for the revival of decorative art in Britain’. However, the term ‘Neo-Pre-Raphaelite’ could be judiciously extended to encompass contemporaries of Cowper and Shaw.

Dr. Anne Anderson is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster currently engaged in curating Pre-Raphaelite Threads, an exhibition for Southampton City Art Gallery and the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum, Bournemouth. Her doctoral thesis was on the Aesthetic Movement. Anne worked on Closer to Home the reopening exhibition at Leighton House Museum, Kensington. She has lectured for many art institutions including the Art Fund, the National Trust and NADFAS. She has also held many prestigious fellowships including Fellow of the Huntington Library, CA and Fellow of the Henry Francis DuPont Winterthur Library and Museum. Anne’s career as an international speaker has taken her all over the world, including Spain, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA.

23 September 2017

Visit to Standen House and Garden, East Grinstead, West Sussex – by coach from Central Birmingham.

Standen, a Grade 1 listed building, is a National Trust gem. An Arts and Crafts family home with Morris & Co interior, set in a beautiful hillside garden. Designed by Philip Webb between 1891 and 1894, for the Beale family. It is a rambling, deliberately vernacular house that blends local materials: stone and brick, weather-boarding, tile-hanging and pebble-dash. Standen is one of the finest examples of Arts and Crafts workmanship. It is decorated with Morris carpets, fabrics and wallpapers, there are light fitting by W.A.S. Benson and the garden complements the beauty of the house. Standen was passed to the National Trust in 1972 for Places of Historic interest or Natural Beauty.

Our visit will begin, on arrival, with a short familiarisation talk on our coach. We will then be free to explore the house and gardens. The coach will be making a stop at Cobham Services where London and Southern Group members can join the trip.

29 July 2017

Lecture by Dr Ayla Lepine – “Pre-Raphaelite Religon and Religious Pre-Raphaelites”

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m

From the outset, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and their close associates sought to create new ways of interpreting Christianity through their radical work. This lecture draws upon a cluster of well-known and lesser-known artworks by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and Edward Burne-Jones, exploring contrasting paths that each artist took towards uncovering innovative approaches to religious subjects in their work. Two figures – a mother and son – will form a framework for considering these fresh perspectives on religious imagery in the midst of a profound set of shifting factors in the art world, theology, and British society that made the Pre-Raphaelite renewal of a religious vision particularly revolutionary. By studying how these artists depicted Christ and the Virgin Mary, new understandings of the Incarnation and the Mother of God emerge in order to demonstrate that these four artists, in their own bespoke way, did nothing less than counter-culturally preach with paint.

Dr Ayla Lepine is a Visiting Fellow in the Art History Department at the University of Essex. Following her PhD on the Gothic Revival at the Courtauld Institute of Art, Ayla held fellowships at the Courtauld and Yale, and has taught, lectured, and published widely. She focuses on Victorian sacred art and architecture in Britain and is completing a book on medieval impacts upon modern cities.

24 June 2017

Lecture by Colin Cruise – “The Cloister and the Laboratory: Rossetti between the Past and the Present”

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 2.00 p.m.

In two early watercolours, The Laboratory (1849, BMAG) and Fra Pace (1856, private collection), Rossetti depicted scenes from distinct historical periods, the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. In doing so he contrasted not only their visual style but also the different values and morals of the cultures they represented to him. These works have only rarely considered in their own right and have never before been compared and contrasted. Colin will do so in this talk in order to open up discussions about the artist’s wider aesthetic programme. The dates of these works are crucial – the first being at the start of Rossetti’s involvement with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, the second at a point when the Brotherhood began to dissolve. Yet there is a dialogue between the two works that will be uncovered and explored here. In their different ways these watercolours look forward to themes worked out by Rossetti in more familiar paintings, a discussion of which forms the second half of this paper.

Colin Cruise is Professor of Art History at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University. He has written widely on nineteenth-century art and the Pre-Raphaelites. In recent years he was guest curator for two exhibitions for BMAG, Love Revealed: Simeon Solomon and the Pre-Raphaelites and The Poetry of Drawing. His current research project is a study of the drawings of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

13 May 2017

Lecture by Patrick Baty – “The Artists of the Artists Rifles”

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m.

The Artists Rifles was one of the more curious regiments of the British Army. It was formed in 1860 by a group of painters, architects, poets, sculptors, musicians and actors who were concerned about a possible invasion by the French. Early members included most of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, William Morris, Frederic, Lord Leighton and even the poet and novelist Algernon Swinburne. Admittedly, some were more effective as soldiers than others – Morris seemed to have trouble with drill; Rossetti questioned every order and Ford Madox Brown managed to shoot his own dog when first on the rifle range. However, Millais was a capable soldier and was elected one of the original officers. Leighton was also a natural leader and commanded the regiment for many years, Whistler describing him as “Colonel of the Royal Academy and the President of the Artists Rifles – aye, and he paints a little!” The regiment was the natural choice for young men of an artistic persuasion in 1914 and well-known artists like John and Paul Nash, the poets Edward Thomas and Wilfred Owen and the playwright Noel Coward wore the uniform of the Artists Rifles. In view of the calibre of men serving in its ranks it became an officer-producing unit and turned out over 10,000 officers for service in other regiments during WWI. Members of the regiment won more gallantry awards than any other.

Patrick Baty is a specialist on the architectural use of colour in historic buildings. His work covers research, paint analysis, colour & technical advice and colour surveys. Projects have ranged from King Henry VIII’s heraldic Beasts; Baroque churches; country houses; wartime RAF stations and London social housing estates to structures such as Tower Bridge and Holborn Viaduct. He also works in the USA. Patrick’s first book The Anatomy of Colour is published by Thames & Hudson in May 2017. He served in the regiment for ten years.

22 April 2017

Visit to Biddulph Old Hall, Stoke-on-Trent with tour by owner Nigel Daly.

Biddulph Old Hall is the historic home of the Biddulph family from which the town gets its name. The inhabited house was originally a small single cell hunting lodge which was developed into the family’s principal residence, part-stone, part-timber framed. Around 1530, a new mansion was commenced alongside the existing manor, and this was described as “Mr Biddulph’s Fair New House of Stone” in contemporary accounts. The house had the involvement or influence of Robert Smythson in its architecture. The Biddulphs were Recusant Catholics and so by about 1580 were being fined heavily so work stopped. No further development was achieved before the house was caught up in a siege during the English Civil War in February 1644, after which it was brought to ruin. The family never rebuilt the new mansion, instead restoring the earlier house which still survives today.

The house was sold out of the family for the first time in 1861, when it was bought by James Bateman, the creator of the famous gardens at Biddulph Grange, now in the care of the National Trust. His youngest son Robert created a studio there, and from 1871 had a lifetime tenancy on the house, painting many of his best known works in the house. Many of his artistic circle visited. During the 20th century the house slowly slipped into disrepair but has been restored by Nigel Daly and Brian Vowles, who have also created a Briar Rose garden within the remaining upstanding ruins. Currently three of Robert Bateman’s original works are on show in the house.

We will be treated to a tour of the house by the owner Nigel Daly with tea and cakes after the tour and free time to explore.


18 March 2017

Lecture by Wendy Holborow – “Work: Forward Motion”

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m.

In 1864, Ford Madox Brown declared that “the finished canvas embodies no less than the work of my life.” He was referring to his painting Work which took more than eleven years to complete, eventually aided by regular instalments of money from his patron Thomas Plint. This lecture will look at Ford Madox Brown’s painting Work through a collection of poems and a short play. The corona of sonnets in the series won first place in this Society’s 2016 competition. The poems take many poetic forms such as the sonnets, but also a Mesostic and several open field poems. Much of the narrative is a figment of Wendy’s imagination, backed up with research on the painting and the social commentary of Victorian England. It has been said that the painting had radical implications by placing the working man at the top, rather than at the bottom of society’s hierarchy of value.

Wendy Holborow, winner of The Pre-Raphaelite Society 2016 poetry prize, poet, playwright and story writer. She was born in South Wales, UK, but lived in Greece for fourteen years where she founded and co-edited Poetry Greece. She has won prizes for poetry some of which have appeared in Agenda, Envoi, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, and many others internationally. She was awarded a poetry Mentorship with Literature Wales in 2012 and has just completed a Masters in Creative Writing at Swansea University (with distinction). She was selected as an International Merit Award winner by the Atlanta Review in 2015 and 2016. Poetry Salzburg published her collection After the Silent Phone Call (2015) and An Italian Afternoon from Indigo Dreams is forthcoming this year. The book Work’s Forward Motion, (2017) will be available after the lecture.

25 February 2017

Lecture by Dr. Lucy Ella Rose – “Evelyn De Morgan: The Metamorphic Mermaid”

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m.

“Second generation” Pre-Raphaelite Evelyn De Morgan (1855-1919) actively supported female emancipation in petition and paint. This paper investigates how she employed the metamorphic mermaid as a model for socio-political transformation from captivity to liberty. Her series of mermaid paintings The Little Sea Maid (1880-88), The Sea Maidens (1885-86) and Daughters of the Mist (1900-09) was inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s popular tale The Little Mermaid (first translated into English in 1872), and she seizes the narrative as a suffragist. Focusing on their series, this paper explores the representation of the female nude; the feminist significance of the sea; the dynamics of the gaze; the subversive symbolism of the mermaid; and the significance of the dawn in early feminist iconography. It shows how Evelyn re-appropriated masculine symbols and classical myths and represented the female body in her art in order to engage with contemporary gender debates and early feminist issues.

Lucy Ella Rose is Teaching Fellow in English at the University is Surrey, where she completed her PhD awarded by the University and Watts Gallery, Surrey in 2015. Her specialist area is women in the nineteenth-century creative partnerships, and she is currently writing her first book: Suffragist Artists in Partnership: Gender, Word and Image. For publication by Edinburgh University Press in 2017.


21 January 2017

Lecture by Helen Bratt Wyton – “Hidden Wightwick and the Acquisition of its Collection”

Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – Lecture starts at 11.00 a.m.

Wightwick Manor, home of the Mander family, was designed by Edward Ould in the Old English Style. Now in the care of the National Trust, it is a treasure trove of the Arts and Crafts Movement with Kempe glass, Morris fabrics and wallpaper and a wonderful selection of Pre Raphaelite art. This illustrated lecture will explore Wightwick Manor’s reserve collection and how its stunning art collection came to Wolverhampton.

Helen Bratt-Wyton has been Head Steward at Wightwick Manor for 15 years. Her varied role involves looking after Wightwick Manor’s stunning collections and interpreting these to the public. She also delivers a yearly talk programme on site and to groups and Societies around the region on Morris, the Pre-Raphaelites and Wightwick Manor’s collections. Helen is one of the founder members of the William Morris Network, a group of organisations and Societies involved with the life and work of Morris and his circle.

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Events from 2016

16 January 2016: Lecture by Dr Jordan Kistler – ‘Arthur O’Shaughnessy: A Pre-Raphaelite Poet in the British Museum’ Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 11.00 a.m.

13 February 2016: Private tour by Dennis Lanigan of the exhibition ‘Beauty’s Awakening: Drawings by the Pre‐Raphaelites and Their Contemporaries from the Lanigan Collection’, Leighton House, London.

28 February 2016: London and Southern Group Book Club- reading Jan Marsh’s ‘The Legend of Elizabeth Siddal’. Venue: The basement of Costa Coffee, 112 Southampton Row, London., 2p.m.

19 March 2016: Lecture by Dr. Robyne Calvert – ‘The Myth of Pre-Raphaelite Dress’. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 11.00 a.m.

2 April 2016: London and Southern Group- A guided walk of Pre-Raphaelite Bloomsbury. Venue: Starting in Red Lion Square and finishing with a picnic and poetry reading in Russell Square.

23 April 2016: Lecture by Professor Anna Gruetzner-Robins – ‘Remembering Rossetti’. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 11.00 a.m.

21 May 2016: Visit to the exhibition ‘Poetry in Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelite Art of Marie Spartali Stillman’ Venue: Watts Gallery Compton, Surrey.

22 May 2016: London and Southern Group Book Club- TBC on February members’ vote. Venue: The basement of Costa Coffee, 112 Southampton Row, London., 2p.m.

25 June 2016: Lecture by Julia Dudkiewicz – ‘Dante Gabriel Rossetti at Kelmscott Manor (1871-1874): An Examination of The Marigolds (1874) and Rossetti’s Possessions Left at Kelmscott’. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 11.00 a.m.

23 July 2016: Lecture by Claire Yearwood Munn – ‘Mirrors in Pre-Raphaelite Art’. Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 11.00 a.m.

September 2016: Lecture by Dr Fiona Mann ‘Edward Burne-Jones and Watercolour Painting 1857-1898’ Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 11.00 a.m.

29 October 2016: Annual General Meeting and Founder’s Day lecture by Dr Serena Trowbridge – ‘The Poetry of Elizabeth Siddal’ Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 9 Margaret Street, Birmingham – AGM starts at 10.30 a.m. with lecture starting at 12.00 p.m.

19 November 2016: Lecture by Dr Angie Dunstan – ‘‘Shaping the Invisible Sculptor’: The Life’s Work of Thomas Woolner PRB RA.’ Venue: Birmingham & Midland Institute, 11.00 a.m.

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