Group of British artists founded in 1975 who aimed to revive the painting of figure subjects in idyllic rural settings

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  • Peter Blake, '`Well, this is grand!' said Alice' 1970

    Peter Blake
    `Well, this is grand!' said Alice 1970
    Screenprint on paper
    image: 242 x 179 mm
    Presented by Rose and Chris Prater through the Institute of Contemporary Prints 1975 Peter Blake 2002. All rights reserved, DACS

    View the main page for this artwork

  • Peter Blake, 'Girl in a Poppy Field' 1974

    Peter Blake
    Girl in a Poppy Field 1974
    Screenprint on paper
    image: 413 x 273 mm
    Presented by Waddington Galleries through the Institute of Contemporary Prints 1975 Peter Blake 2002. All rights reserved, DACS

    View the main page for this artwork

The group was centred round pop artist Peter Blake after his move from London to the countryside near Bath. The full name was The Brotherhood of Ruralists and this, combined with the original number of seven members, gives a conscious echo of the nineteenth-century Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which the Ruralists deeply admired.

The ruralists aimed to revive and update the vein of imaginative painting of romantic figure subjects in idyllic rural settings, in a style of high precision realism, found in the early work of the Pre-Raphaelites. The painting Ophelia by John Everett Millais was a talismanic example. They also looked to the earlier visionary landscapes of Samuel Palmer and The Ancients. The children’s book Alice In Wonderland and its illustrations by John Tenniel and Arthur Rackham were another source of inspiration.

The members of the group were, in addition to Blake, Ann Arnold, Graham Arnold, Jann Haworth (Blake’s then wife), David Inshaw, Annie Ovenden and Graham Ovenden.

Blake, Hayworth and Inshaw left the group in the early 1980s but the Arnolds and Ovendens continued to exhibit.