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The Liverpool Academy and Pre-Raphaelitism

Modelled on the Royal Academy in London, the Liverpool Academy was founded in 1812. It taught students, elected artists as associates and full members to govern its working, and organised exhibitions. From 1845 until about 1860, it played a significant part in Pre-Raphaelite history.

During this period, several younger artists who exhibited and took part in the affairs of the Academy, fell under the spell of Pre-Raphaelitism. Their vigorous advocacy of London-based members of the Brotherhood for the 50 non-member prize led to a split within the Academy and eventually to its temporary demise. William Windus was the most important of this group.

The following chronology summarises the exhibiting history in Liverpool of the London-based Pre-Raphaelites.

1845
William Windus began exhibiting at the Liverpool Academy (Member of Liverpool Academy 1848)

1846
50 prize for non-Liverpool painters introduced 'as a means of inducing artists of eminence to contribute to the annual exhibition'. Millais exhibited 'Pizarro seizing the Inca of Peru' (Victoria and Albert Museum). Probably bought by John Miller of Everton. William Davis began exhibiting at Liverpool Academy (Associate of Liverpool Academy 1851).

1847
Ford Madox Brown and Holman Hunt exhibited.

1848
Ford Madox Brown exhibited 'Wycliffe' (City Art Gallery, Bradford).

1849
Ford Madox Brown and J. Collinson exhibited. D. A. Williamson began exhibiting at the Liverpool Academy.

1851
Windus visited Royal Academy and reported back enthusiastically about Pre-Raphaelites to his fellow artists and the Liverpool patron, John Miller. Hunt won 50 non-member prize for 'Valentine rescuing Sylvia from Proteus' (City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham).

1852
Millais's 'Huguenot' (Gallery of Modern Art, Huntington Hartford Collection, New York) won 50 non-member prize.

1853
Hunt won 50 non-member prize for 'Claudio and Isabella' (Tate Gallery). Ford Madox Brown exhibited 'The Seed and Fruits of English Poetry' (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford).

1856
Ford Madox Brown won 50 non-member prize for 'Christ Washing Peter's Feet' (Tate Gallery).

1857
Millais won 50 non-member prize for 'The Blind Girl' (City Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham). Ford Madox Brown exhibited 'Windermere' (Lady Lever Art Gallery). Split in the Liverpool Academy over consistent awarding of prizes to Pre-Raphaelites. Breakaway Liverpool Society of Fine Arts led by W. G. Herdman.

1858
Ford Madox Brown won 50 non-member prize for 'Chaucer' (Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney). Hunt exhibited 'Rienzi' (private collection).

1859
William Dyce won 50 non-member prize for 'The Good Shepherd'.

1859-66
London-based members of the Brotherhood and their associates continued to exhibit in Liverpool without winning further prizes. Rival exhibitions held by opposing institutions.

1867
Liverpool Academy ceased exhibiting. Continued to hold classes for an indeterminate period thereafter.

1871
Liverpool Autumn Exhibition commenced - early exhibitions held at Liverpool Museum (now World Museum), before moving to the Walker.

1877
Walker Art Gallery opened.