much about the artists who had flourished before the time of Raphael. When the group met in 1848 they drew up a list of those historical 'Immortals' whom they most admired. Most were literary figures, but at the peak of this heroic pyramid stood Jesus. The early exhibited works of the 'P.R.B.' (as they mysteriously signed their paintings) were primarily religious in inspiration. These included Rossetti's The girlhood of Mary Virgin (1848-9) and his version of the annunciation EcceAncilla Domini (1849-50). Chief amongst the models who sat for the figure ofthe Virgin Mary was Rossetti's sister, the poet Christina. Their pictures were not well received by critics, but the greatest furore connected with the first phase of Pre-Raphaelitism arose when Millais exhibited his Christ in the carpenter's shop (1849-50), also known as Christ in the house of his parents. The picture's odd perspective, naturalistic setting and use of unidealised models in awkward poses stimulated the fury of critics, among them Charles Dickens. Its symbolic prefigurings ofthe Passion, however, delighted those sympathetic to the Oxford Movement and Pugin's neo-Gothic propaganda (these loose associations between artistic and religious movements were not lost on the satirical journal Punch). Neither Rossetti nor Millais was a particularly devout man and neither pursued the idea of a dedicatedly religious art (though Millais's superbly inventive series of wood-block illustrations for The parables of our Lord of 1863 is an exception). Holman Hunt's art retained a more Protestant bias, as in A converted British family sheltering a Christian missionary from the persecution of the Druids (1849-50), ironically acquired by one of the prime lay supporters of the Oxford Movement, who later purchased Hunt's symbolic painting of Christ as The light of the world (1853-6). This picture was extravagantly praised and painstakingly interpreted by Ruskin, and later assumed quasi-iconic status amongst devout Protestants thanksboth to engravings and to the larger version painted by Hunt in i899 which now hangs in St Paul's Cathedral.
In 1864, after much debate, a scheme of mosaic decoration for the interior of St Paul's Cathedral was initiated. The eight spandrels of the dome were decorated with representations of the four evangelists by George Frederic Watts (1817-1904) and of four major prophets by Alfred Stevens (1817-75). Work was not completed until c. 1891. The stylised, richly toned mosaics of 1892-6 in the cathedral's choir were designed by Sir William Blake Richmond (1842-1921) and are more Byzantine in inspiration, though with art nouveau touches. This belated decoration of St Paul's was rivalled by that of other great European churches in the later nineteenth century, though many ofthese schemes have been lost to the ravages of war, time and changing fashion. One ambitious scheme of painted murals and mosaics was designed by Cesare Fracassini
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